The Forgotten Child - Table of Contents

A Personal Foreword

  1. Introduction.

    The failure of the modern city to provide a suitable habitat for its children. Their increasing isolation and segregation in cities and suburbs. Anticipated consequences of the disappearance of children from a shared social world.
  2. Effects of the Built Environment.

    How the built environment defines children's identity and self esteem; how ugliness, fragmentation and illegibility contribute to the environmental and emotional anesthesia of some city dwellers, and how we can recreate beauty and harmony in our urban environment.
  3. Meaning in the Urban Environment.

    Draws an analogy between dysfunctional families and dysfunctional cities. How some urban and suburban environments represent a form of sensory deprivation. How children can be helped to read and understand their physical environment, from their neighborhood to the city as a whole.
  4. Public Urban Places.

    The importance of public urban places for the social and attitudinal learning of children. How urban public places can be designed to support social participation and sociability. The challenge of creating good public urban places in North America.
  5. The Public Realm as Teacher

    How does a vital and diverse public realm provide good models for children to become caring and engaged adults? What can children learn from observing and interacting with adults in a shared public world? How are social problems and dysfunctional behaviors linked to the impoverishment of the public realm?
  6. Accessibility, Mobility, Autonomy

    How current transportation planning and traffic policy limits the autonomy and mobility of children. Proposes policies and mechanisms to make cities safer for children. Describes the role of land use planning, traffic quietening, public transportation and pedestrian networks in making cities more hospitable for children.
  7. How We See Each Other

    Describes the implications of how city dwellers think of each other (e.g. dangerous or trustworthy). Focuses on the public's preoccupation with the dangerous child while little concern is shown for violence towards children and a culture of violence that provides models for children's behavior. Defines the elements responsible for "violent children".
  8. Society's Ambivalence towards Children

    How society's neglect of children's social and emotional well-being is reflected in the way our cities, suburbs and city peripheries have been shaped. How the injustice and neglect of children's interests becomes visible in the urban structures and forms created by urban professionals, architects, developers, abetted by city officials. Offers explanations for this ambivalence and inability to consider the destructive effects of these urban policies and decisions.
  9. Social Capital and Social Investment in Children

    Proposes the relevance of Putnam's concept of social capital to the relationship between community, parents and children. Offers support for the proposition that neglect and mistreatment of children is "mortgaging our future".
  10. Connecting the Worlds of Children and Adults

    Discusses ways for children to become involved in the life of their community. Also illustrates how children can be reconnected to their communities, with examples from other Western cultures, and how these patterns can be adapted to a North American context.
  11. Information Technology and Children

    Describes limitations and unanticipated effects of information technology on socialization and social learning of children. How absence of community and shared social experiences amplify harm caused by exposure to electronic violence (e.g. violent video games.) Argues for providing real life experiences and role models (including community events, festivals, participation in the arts) to inoculate children against the attraction of violence.


  • Provides brief reviews of ten significant books that are crucial to understanding the constraints imposed on children by contemporary urban environments.