Research on Human Rights in AJO 

Kosher, H., & Ben-Arieh, A. (2017). What children think about their rights and their well-being: A cross-national comparison. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(3), 256-273.

Abstract

Recent years have brought a growing social and public commitment to the promotion of children’s rights and children’s well-being around the world, and these have become important goals of all those striving to improve children’s lives. In spite of the intimate ideological connection between the concepts of children’s rights and children’s well-being, they have evolved separately both theoretically and empirically. In the current article, we present a study exploring the empirical association between these 2 concepts based on data from the International Survey on Children’s Well-Being. This unique survey explores children’s own perspectives on their well-being (subjective well-being), their perceptions and knowledge of their rights, and their reports on their right to participation. It includes data from more than 54,000 children aged 8–12 from 16 countries around the world. Our results showed clear cross-national differences between children’s knowledge and perceptions of their rights and their reports on participation. Also, children’s participation in different contexts in their lives showed an association with their subjective well-being; a weaker association was found between children’s knowledge and perceptions of their rights. These results indicate that children’s right to participation and, to some degree, their knowledge and thinking about their rights is an indicator of their well-being.


Magliano, L., Punzo, R., Strino, A., Acone, R., Affuso, G., & Read, J. (2017). General practitioners’ beliefs about people with schizophrenia and whether they should be subject to discriminatory treatment when in medical hospital: The mediating role of dangerousness perception. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(5), 559-566.

Abstract

This study explored the relationships between General Practitioners’ (GPs) beliefs about People With Schizophrenia (PWS) and GPs’ recommendations regarding restrictions for such people when in medical (nonpsychiatric) hospital, and whether these relationships were mediated by dangerousness perception. There were 322 randomly selected Italian GPs who completed a questionnaire measuring beliefs about PWS. Structural Equation Model (SEM) was used to explore the effects of these beliefs on the GPs’ views about the need for restrictive rules in hospital. Thirty-1 percent of GPs firmly believed that, in medical wards, PWS should be supervised and 18% that they should be separated from other patients. SEM revealed that belief in such differential treatment was positively related to a belief that PWS need medication for the rest of their lives, and to perceptions of others’ need for social distance, and of dangerousness. Dangerousness was, in turn, positively related to the belief that PWS need medication for their lives, and to a perception of the need for social distance, but negatively related to perceived capacity to report health problems. Analyses of indirect effects showed that the relationships of belief in discriminatory treatment with belief in medication for life and with perceived social distance were mediated by perceived dangerousness. GPs’ attitudes about PWS appear closely with their beliefs on discriminatory behaviors in hospital, and the mediating role of dangerousness perceptions. Providing GPs with education about schizophrenia treatments and prognosis, and countering stereotypes about dangerousness, could be helpful to reduce GPs’ beliefs in the need for discriminatory treatment of PWS.


Thomas, E. C., Snethen, G., & Salzer, M. S. (2017). A developmental study of community participation of individuals with serious mental illnesses: Implications for policy and practice. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(5), 597-605.

Abstract

Understanding age-related expectations for community participation can aid mental health providers and policy makers in the design and tailoring of age-appropriate services to better meet consumers’ participation needs. This study seeks to describe and compare the amount, importance, and sufficiency of community participation in younger adult, middle-aged adult, and older adult consumers. Participants were 879 adults with serious mental illnesses who completed the Temple University Community Participation Measure as part of several studies (only baseline data were analyzed). One-way analysis of variance tests and chi-square analyses were used to evaluate the effect of age group on community participation outcomes. The amount and importance of participation in specific participation areas differed across age groups in developmentally appropriate ways. For older adults, a greater percentage of areas considered important were done enough, and fewer participation days were needed in certain areas for participation to be considered sufficient. Consumers reported participating in the community to meet basic needs (e.g., running errands), but participation appeared lower in areas typically identified as important to various age groups across the life span (e.g., working). Results support the use of developmental frameworks for delivering mental health services and identify particular areas of community participation that policy and practice efforts might focus on to help individuals participate to a greater degree in areas that are important to them. Implications for policy making, program evaluation, and individual interventions are discussed. 


Smith, A. B. (2016). Achieving social justice for children: How can children’s rights thinking make a difference? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 86(5), 500-507.

Abstract

This article draws on themes from the author's book, Children’s Rights: Toward Social Justice, that emerge from surveying children’s rights issues in different childhood contexts; the family, education, child protection, and health services. The author has selected five examples of application of children’s rights to a policy area and identified the implications for policy and practice. There are four core rights that cut across all children’s rights issues that are mentioned before discussing specific areas. First, children, regardless of race, sex, language, religion, disability, or class, are entitled to rights. In other words, all children should enjoy their rights and should not be discriminated against. Second, “the best interests of the child” should be “a primary consideration” in actions or decisions concerning children. Third, children have the right to survival and development. And fourth, children have the right to be consulted and have their views heard in matters that affect them.


Werner, S., & Chabany, R. (2016). Guardianship law versus supported decision-making policies: Perceptions of persons with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities and parents. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 86(5), 486-499.

Abstract

Article 12 of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes all persons with disabilities as having legal capacity in all areas of life. However, in adherence to the Israeli Legal Capacity and Guardianship Law (1962), many persons with intellectual disability (ID) or mental illness (MI) have these rights revoked because of the appointment of a guardian. Little is known about these persons’ perceptions about guardianship and supported decision making (SDM). Using focus groups, we examined the perceptions of persons with ID, persons with MI, and parents regarding guardianship and SDM. Most participants expressed their desire to adopt a model of SDM in their daily decision making, though differences were found among the groups. Persons with MI emphasized their right to be independent in decisions regarding their lives, and parents of these persons aspired to support their children to reach independence, except in times of crisis. Persons with ID also desired more independence, but they were uncertain if this would be possible for them. Some individuals with ID preferred that decisions regarding their lives be made on their behalf. Parents of persons with ID felt that it was critical for them to serve as guardians of their children. Recommendations are provided on how to promote the legal capacity of individuals with disabilities. 


Levesque, R. J. R. (2014). Discrimination, developmental science, and the law: Addressing dramatic shifts in civil rights jurisprudence. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84(1), 25-34.

Abstract

The civil rights movement fostered dramatic shifts in legal responses to discrimination based on race, gender, and a host of other group characteristics. The legal system now evinces yet another dramatic shift, as it moves from considering difference to focusing on neutrality, from efforts that seek to counter subjugation to those that adopt a “color-blind” approach. The shifting approach already has reached laws regulating responses to the group that spurred massive civil rights reform: minority youth. The shift requires a different body of empirical evidence to address it and a new look at equality jurisprudence. This article notes the need to turn to the current understanding of prejudice and discrimination for guidance, and uses, as illustration, developmental science to shed light on the development, manifestation, and alleviation of invidious discrimination. Using that understanding, the analysis details how the legal system can benefit from that research and better address discrimination in light of dramatic changes in law. The article articulates the need to address discrimination by recognizing and enlisting the law’s inculcative powers through multiple sites of inculcation, ranging from families, schools, health and justice systems to religious and community groups. The discussion concludes with brief suggestions for reform benefiting from understandings of prejudice and its expression.

Ben‐Arieh, A., & Attar-Schwartz, S. (2013). An ecological approach to children's rights and participation: Interrelationships and correlates of rights in different ecological systems. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 83(1), 94-106.

Abstract

Current knowledge emphasizes either a developmental or a cultural/contextual theoretical framework for understanding children’s approaches to the concepts of rights and participation. This study, carried out among 1,753 Israeli adolescents (ages 15–17), uses a socioecological perspective instead to understand children’s rights and participation. It examines adolescents’ approaches to their rights and participation at 4 ecological levels—family, school, community, and the larger sociopolitical system—as well as a number of possible child, family, and societal correlates. It also looks at the interactions between some of these correlates. The findings show that different correlates have different links with various ecological circles. For example, girls reported higher levels of participation in the family and at school, but no significant differences were found between boys and girls in their participation in the community and at civic-political levels. Israeli Palestinians reported higher levels of participation in their schools and at the civic-political level but lower levels of participation in the family and the community compared with their Jewish counterparts. The significant interaction effect between nation and gender showed that, among Arab students, there were larger gaps between boys and girls in the different participation domains than there were among Jewish students. Furthermore, higher rates of participation in the family and lower rates of civic participation were found among students from single-parent families. This study shows that employing an ecological framework to the efforts to understand children’s approaches to rights and participation is a first step in the right direction for fostering children’s rights and participation.

Torney‐Purta, J., & Barber, C. (2011). Fostering young people’s support for participatory human rights through their developmental niches. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(4), 473-481.

Abstract

The last 6 decades of empirical research on civic engagement among young people living in democracies and of the recognition of international human rights have seen the achievement of many milestones. This article focuses on some connections between these 2 areas and examines the ways in which everyday settings such as neighborhoods and the schools that exist within them can foster support for human rights (especially the practice of participatory rights) among adolescents. Secondary analysis of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement Civic Education (CIVED) Study (data collected in 1999 from nationally representative samples of 14-year-olds in 28 countries) is presented. A cluster analysis of 12 attitudinal scales in 5 countries sharing the Western European tradition (Australia, England, Finland, Sweden, and the United States) is presented. A new conceptual model is also introduced, a modification of Super and Harkness’s Developmental Niche. This model frames an analysis unpacking some findings from the CIVED Study and focusing on the everyday experiences and neighborhood niches for the development of participatory human rights. The larger message is that research on social justice attitudes among young people is a valuable form of social advocacy and action.

Melton, G. B. (2010). It’s all about relationships! The psychology of human rights. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(2), 161-169.

Abstract

In recognition of the broader community’s obligation to ensure that children have opportunities for development of their personalities, a premise of the law of humanitarian relief has long been that children have "first call" on society’s resources. Such an approach implies that children, including children with emotional disturbance, have a right to "special care and assistance." In implementing this principle, we must remember that how such assistance is provided is at least as important as how much is offered. Human rights law can provide the guidance needed for thoughtful action to treat all children like people