Live broadcast role of chaos development: nearly 600 community professionals take part in live broadcast.
Subject: Human growth (Social aspects)
Child welfare (Management)
Family demography (Forecasts and trends)
Author: Hall, Sheri
Pub Date: 11/01/2008
Publication: Name: Human Ecology Publisher: Cornell University, Human Ecology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Cornell University, Human Ecology ISSN: 1530-7069
Issue: Date: Nov, 2008 Source Volume: 36 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 200 Management dynamics; 010 Forecasts, trends, outlooks Computer Subject: Company business management; Market trend/market analysis
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 231021641
Full Text: Chaos in the forms of noise, crowding, and shifting family dynamics is harmful to children's development and disproportionately impacts low-income and minority families, according to research by three Human Ecology professors working to educate community professionals on this phenomenon and how to address it.

This summer, the college hosted a videoconference to inform nearly 600 community professionals at 13 sites across; the state of New York about the problem of chaos in families and how to address it.

The live broadcast titled "Children and Chaos: How Chaotic Environmental Settings Influence Human Development from Infancy through Adolescence" featured the research of three faculty members: Dan Lichter, professor of policy analysis and management and director of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center; Elaine Wethington, associate professor of human development and co-principal investigator for the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging; arid Gary Evans, professor of design and environmental analysis and human development.

The event was unique because it melded research from psychology, demography, and sociology for a diverse audience that included representatives from schools, health care organizations, the court system, and the foster care system.

"It's a problem that reaches across disciplines and across communities," said Evans, one of the event organizers.

Historically, U.S. children have experienced chaos for decades due to the nation's high rates of migration, poverty, and maternal and child mortality. But today, chaos in children's lives is largely on the family level.

"Children are affected by the divorce and remarriage of their parents, higher rates of maternal employment, and the fast pace of modern life," Lichter explained.


These disproportionate effects on low-income and minority children contribute to the cycle of poverty in our nation, Evans said. His research shows that chaos--specifically crowding, excessive noise, less structured and predictable household routines, as well as geographic instability--is linked closely to economic status, with poorer families experiencing more chaos.

For example, he said, lower-income families are five times more likely to experience divorce and six times more likely to have unpredictable work schedules.

In addition, lower-income communities are on average 10-15 decibels louder--or twice as loud--as middle-class communities. Evans' research has shown that children living in noisy communities are more likely to suffer from deficits in reading.

"There's a convergence of these different issues that creates problems for children living in poverty," he said. "Children need to learn they can have an impact on their environment. In chaos, that's difficult to learn because they lose the sense of control over their environment."

Wethington's work has identified several red flags that indicate children are experiencing too much chaos in their lives:

* a lack of routine in parents' schedules;

* a lack of routine in the child's eating and sleeping schedule;

* time spent unsupervised; and

* a lack of cheerfulness or energy.

"We need local solutions that involve schools and parents," Wethington told the audience.

The videoconference was based on materials presented at the first biennial Bronfenbrenner Conference on the Ecology of Human Development held in Ithaca in October 2007.

The three-day seminar attracted researchers and authors from across the globe to discuss how chaos influeces human development. Papers Written for the conference are also scheduled to be published in a book in 2009.

Other co-sponsors of the videoconference include the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center, the Patenting in Context Project, and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The video broadcast and downloadable research briefs are available at Follow the link to archived webcasts.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.