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September 15, 1993

Today's Children: Creating a Future for a Generation in Crisis

JAMA. 1993;270(11):1371. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510110113045

Dr David Hamburg, president of the Carnegie Corporation, offers an evolutionary perspective on the development of humans, who have "the longest period of immaturity, therefore vulnerability, of all known species." He presents strong arguments that technological transformations of our own environment have outpaced preparation of families and their children to adapt to those changes. Hamburg describes the formidable challenges for adults today to meet the needs of all children for "dependable attachment, protection, guidance, stimulation, nurturance, and ways of coping with adversity." Drawing heavily upon published reports from national councils of experts, he outlines a series of essential educational, health, and social interventions that are rational, developmentally appropriate, scientifically based, derived from professional experience, and humane.

Dr Hamburg focuses on early childhood and early adolescence as the most critical periods of development and the most strategic life stages for interventions to produce positive outcomes. He begins with a history of