Runaways

How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped Today's Practices and Policies

Karen M. Staller

Columbia University Press

Runaways

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Pub Date: July 2006

ISBN: 9780231124102

320 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $50.00£40.00

Runaways

How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped Today's Practices and Policies

Karen M. Staller

Columbia University Press

During the 1960s and 1970s, runaways became a source of national concern in America. Countercultural activists provided support to runaway youth, and private agencies began developing innovative, sometimes controversial programs to serve them. In this multilayered history, Karen M. Staller examines the programs and policies that took shape during this period and the ways in which the ideas of the alternative-services movement continue to guide our responses to at-risk youth.

Staller begins with the 1960s, when the mainstream media began to characterize the act of running away less as an opportunity for exciting adventure (as experienced by Huckleberry Finn) and more as a temptation with dangerous consequences. She then turns to the books, poems, broadsides, and songs produced by Beat writers and countercultural meccas like Haight Ashbury and New York City's East Village, which embraced runaways as kindred social revolutionaries. Adopting the ideology of the Beats, groups like the San Francisco-based Diggers established informal services utilized by runaway adolescents, including crash pads and helplines. Many of their ideas took root, and alternative providers began to bridge the gap between counterculture and mainstream institutions.

Staller concludes with an analysis of how the legislative desire to decriminalize running away, coupled with the judicial system's growing discomfort with policing the moral and civic education of youths, led to an increase in the number of troubled children appearing on the streets. It also prompted the enactment of federal runaway youth legislation, including the Runaway Youth Act of 1974, which endorsed the alternative-service community's model.

By looking at the history of runaways, Staller illuminates how the mainstream media and countercultural ideologies shaped the identity and perception of this social problem and how developments in service and social policy continue to evolve today.
Runaways offers an informative description of the history of service development and media construction of runaway youth in America. Emilie Smeaton, Child and Family Social Work
Acknowledgments
Foreword: A Personal Journey to Some Research Questions
1. Testing Freedom: On the Road to a Runaway Problem
Part I: Constructing Runaway Youth
2. Media Myth Spinning: From Runaway Adventurers to Street Survivors (1960-1978)
3. Spinning Myths from Runaway Lives: A Hip Beat Version of Dropping Out
Part II: Psychedelic Social Workers and Alternative Services
4. Digger Free: Power in Autonomy, Independence in a Free City Network (1966-1968)
5. The Grassroots Rise of Alternative Runaway Services (1967-1974)
Part III: Policy and "Runaway" Youth
6. Shifting Institutional Structures: From Moral Guidance to Autonomous Denizens (1960-1978)
7. Legitimization Through Legislation-The Runaway Youth Act: National Attention to the Runaway Problem (1971-1974)
Part IV: Conclusions: Where We've Been, Where We're Going, What We've Learned
8. National Extensions-Problem, Services, and Policy (1974-)
9. Closing Note: Lessons Learned and Conveyed Appendix 1: Runaway Youth Act (Senate Version, S. 2829: the Bayh/Cook Bill)
Appendix 2: Runaway Youth Act (House Version, H. 9298)
Appendix 3: The Runaway Youth Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-415)
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1: >"Testing Freedom: On the Road to a Runaway Problem" (pdf)

About the Author

Karen M. Staller is assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan. She has also practiced public interest law with low-income senior citizens and at-risk adolescents in New York City.
Karen Staller, PhD, JD is Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research focuses on runaway and homeless youth and other at-risk adolescents. Her scholarly interests include the relationship between social problem construction and social policy, interdisciplinary legal-social work practice, and the history of social welfare institutions. She has practiced public interest law with low-income senior citizens and at-risk adolescents in New York City and was educated at Cornell Law School and Columbia University School of Social Work.

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