H. M., Zeller, R. W., Close, D. W., Webber, J., & Gresham, F.
(1999). The present unwrapped: Change and challenge in the field of
behavioral disorders [invited article]. Behavioral Disorders , 24 (4),
This article examines the present state of affairs in the field of
behavior disorders. The case is made that the field's target population
has changed dramatically, for the worse, over the past twenty five
years due primarily to the transformation of our society in an
unfortunate manner. Because of long term exposure to such risk factors
as poverty, drug and alcohol use by caregivers, child neglect, social
fragmentation, weak parenting practices, and violent images in the
media, we have produced a generation of children and youth who are far
more at risk for unhealthy lives than prior generations. Our society's
responses to the damaging effects of these developments (e.g., school
failure and dropout, delinquency, violent acts) has been characterized
primarily by the use of punishing sanctions designed to teach
vulnerable children and youth lessons of avoidance rather than to
prevent these conditions or to habilitate the victims of them.
Strategies are suggested for professionals in the field of behavior
disorders to consider in advocating for new, proactive approaches in
addressing these societal problems.