1. Distinguished Early Career Award
Deadline: March 1, 2018
Contact: Grace Kao, Yale University, at firstname.lastname@example.org
This award honors individuals for distinguished contributions to research and teaching on the sociology of children and youth. Candidates must have received their PhD within the six calendar years prior to the nomination deadline (no later than 2012). Nominees must be current members of the American Sociological Association (ASA). While not a requirement, we encourage nominees to become members of ASA's Section on Children and Youth. Self-nominations are appropriate. To make a nomination, write a letter briefly stating why the person should be considered and submit with a copy of their CV to the committee chair, Grace Kao, at email@example.com. The deadline is March 1, 2018.
2. Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award
Deadline: March 1, 2018
Contact: Anna Mueller, University of Chicago, at firstname.lastname@example.org
This award recognizes an outstanding paper authored by one or more graduate students. In addition to recognition at our annual reception at the ASA meetings, the winner(s) will receive a cash award of $250. To qualify for this year’s competition, the author and any co-authors must have been students at the time that the paper was written. A paper is eligible if it made a “public appearance” in 2016-2017, defined as one of the following: 1) having been submitted for a class or seminar held in those years, 2) having been presented at a professional meeting in those years, or 3) having been accepted for publication or published in those years. Nominees must be current members of the American Sociological Association (ASA). While not required, we encourage nominees to become members of ASA's Section on Children and Youth and to consider posting a version of their paper on Socarxiv. If the winner posted their paper to Socarxiv by March 1, 2018, Socarxiv will award the winning student paper an additional $250; however, the choice whether to post to Socarxiv or not is entirely up to the student and should be made in consultation with mentors. Finally, self-nominations are strongly encouraged. To make a nomination, write a letter briefly stating why the paper should be considered and submit with a copy of the publication to the Committee Chair, Anna Mueller, at email@example.com by March 1, 2018.
3. Outstanding Scholarly Contribution Award (book)
Deadline: March 1, 2018
Contact: Kelly Balistreri, Bowling Green State University, at firstname.lastname@example.org
This award is given in odd years to an article and in even years to a book published in the preceding two years that has had a major impact on the field of Children and Youth. Books under consideration for the 2018 award should have been published in 2016-2017. Self-nominations are appropriate. Nominees must be current members of the American Sociological Association (ASA). In addition, a single author or one of the coauthors must be a member of ASA's Section on Children and Youth.
Please email a letter of nomination with a brief description of the book to the committee chair at email@example.com by March 1, 2018. In addition, nominators should also request copies of the book from the publishers to be sent to all four committee members. Nominations and books should be received no later than March 1, 2018.
Kelly Stamper Balistreri
Department of Sociology
218 Williams Hall
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH 43403
Department of Sociology
Patterson Office Tower 1569
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506-0027
Department of Sociology
267 19th Ave. S, 909 Social Sciences Building
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455
306A Eppes Hall
112 S. Copeland St.
College of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Florida State University, FL 32306
Recent award winners are listed here
Youth suicide is never far from the American imagination. It is featured regularly in sensationalistic media coverage, as well as in books, plays, movies, and TV shows. In some ways, suicide occupies a similar space in the sociological imagination. Durkheim’s Suicide was one of the foundational texts of our discipline, and his influence, on sociology and the scientific study of suicide (or “suicidology”), is still recognized today; particularly, Durkheim’s insight that suicide is deeply tied to social isolation. Yet, at the same time, since 1980, sociologists have contributed dramatically fewer papers on suicide than nearly every other discipline, essentially ceding knowledge construction to psychology, psychiatry, and epidemiology. Perhaps more importantly, when we do contribute knowledge, we are largely re-testing Durkheim’s theses rather than pushing analyses forward by (1) drawing on our diverse methodological and theoretical toolkit and (2) focusing on the social problems of today, rather than those from Durkheim’s era.
Nowhere is the lack of a sociological perspective on suicide more problematic than when considering suicide among children and youth. First, suicide among youth represents a major social problem. Though the rise in suicide deaths among middle-aged white men has received substantial attention, the group with the second largest increase in suicide is youth ages 10-25. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1999 to 2014, suicide has increased about 200 percent among girls ages 10-14 and 36 percent among boys ages 10-14. Youth ages 15-24 are also demonstrating substantial and significant increases in suicide. Among girls ages 15-24, the rate has increased approximately 53 percent since 1999; among boys ages 15-24, the increase is smaller (only 8 percent), but still statistically significant. To drive home the magnitude of these changes, according to a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from August 2017, the suicide rate for females ages 15-19 is now at a 40-year high. On top of these trends by gender, Native American and Alaska Native youth ages 15-34 have one of the highest suicide rates in the U.S. (31 per 100,000 according to the CDC, using 2012 data), which is 2.5 times higher than the national average for that age group.
Though rates of suicide ideation, plans and attempts (also called “suicidality”) have not changed as dramatically as rates of suicide deaths (an interesting trend in and of itself), a brief review reveals that though suicide deaths are rare, suicidality is not. For example, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of U.S. high school students, 25.6 percent of Latina girls, 22.8 percent of white girls, and 18.7 percent of black girls seriously contemplated suicide in the past 12 months. Latina girls also have the highest prevalence of suicide attempts with 15 percent reporting a suicide attempt in the past year, compared to 9.8 percent of white girls and 10.2 percent of black girls. Though in the U.S., boys report suicidality at lower rates than girls (and have suicide deaths at higher rates), a sizeable minority of boys report suicide ideation (around 12 percent), with much less variation between race/ethnic groups. Additionally, research indicates that suicide is more prevalent in disadvantaged neighborhoods and among poor youth. These demographics clearly indicate that suicide is an important social problem among youth that warrants sociological attention.
The second reason that youth suicide warrants more research attention from sociologists is that social forces likely play a particularly important role because of youth’s developmental sensitivity to social pressures. Indeed, many of the top concerns around suicide in youth involve inherently social experiences. In addition to concerns about suicide clusters or suicide diffusion, substantial attention is being paid to the roles of social media and bullying in youth suicide and to TV shows like 13 Reasons Why. And yet, research has barely scratched the surface of how and why these social forces may matter. With regard to shows like 13 Reasons Why, many suicidologists and psychologists have cautioned that the show could encourage suicide as an option for youth, but in truth, very little empirical research explicitly examines how exposure to suicide via salient role models shapes youth’s vulnerability to suicide. (For my take on 13 Reasons Why, check out this essay.)
This is where my own work, with my colleague Dr. Seth Abrutyn (University of British Columbia) comes in. Using both quantitative and qualitative data, the goal of our research is to better understand how youth cope with and make sense of suicide after exposure to the suicide death or attempt of a classmate or friend. In brief, we have found that exposure to suicide can change whether youth see suicide as a justifiable action that someone like them might do to escape a certain set of circumstances. We also find clear evidence that suicide in adolescence has social roots.
In our qualitative case study of a community with a substantial and enduring suicide problem including repeated suicide clusters, we illustrate how social pressures amplify youth’s misery and diminish their willingness to seek help for their psychological pain. When combined with repeated exposure to the suicides of classmates, this ultimately reifies suicide as an option, or perhaps as the option, for escape.
Undoubtedly, the causes of suicide are complex and multifaceted and involve the intermingling of biological, social, environmental, and psychological risk and protective factors. But sociology is uniquely situated to shed light on how social forces and environmental factors condition biological risk, cause psychological pain, and ultimately shape suicide. As such, it is imperative that sociologists, and particularly sociologists of children and youth, return to studying this important and pressing social problem.
Anna S. Mueller is a sociologist and an assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development and the College at the University of Chicago. Her research on adolescent suicide won the Outstanding Scholarly Contribution Awards from the Section on Children & Youth in 2015 and 2017. For more about her research, visit www.annasmueller.com
Section on Children and Youth