Feature Article

Presidential column

The Div. 7 president discusses the 2016 APA convention and ponders how the current political climate may influence children around the world.

By Jacquelynne S. Eccles, PhD

We have a fantastic program planned for this year's APA meeting in Denver. We continue to be well-represented in the interdivisional sessions thanks to our great program chair this year, Jennifer Fredricks. I encourage everyone to come. Denver is lovely in the summer.

It has been a troubled year for APA, and many members continue to be concerned about the future direction of our association. The fallout from the Hoffman report is still a major concern. Our APA Council representatives, Suniya Luthar and Sarah Friedman, have gone well beyond the call of duty to do whatever they can to work for positive outcomes. I want to give them a special thank-you this year for their many efforts on our behalf and on behalf of the integrity of the APA. I know how stressful the year has been for them. We are fortunate to have such dedicated council reps. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Gail Goodman for her many contributions to Div. 7 over the past six years, as president-elect, president and past president. This will be her last APA meeting as one of the presidents. It has been a real honor to work with her for the past four years. She has done so much for our division that it is hard to fully acknowledge her influence. But perhaps one of her most long-lasting influences will result from the many new committee chairs and leaders she has recruited onto our team, including Sonja Brubacher as membership chair and Lindsay Malloy as the new editor for our newsletter. Gail was also able to recruit Sue Hobbs to update our APA website. It has been quite amazing this year to watch these new team members take over their respective committees this year and go well beyond what we might have expected of them. Thank you Gail for recruiting such great team members and thank you to each of the new team members and volunteers for your amazing contributions this year.

I am not a political person and am usually reluctant to comment on the national and international political scenes. But this past year has been terrifying, and I feel compelled to express my concern over the rise in fascist, racist, xenophobic and extreme right-wing rhetoric in the Western political world. I particularly am distressed by the ways in which this rhetoric is aimed at immigrants who are striving to find safe and healthy places to raise their children and protect their families. I live in a part of the world where extreme wealth surrounds me while nearby schools serving immigrant families from Mexico, Central American and South East Asia cannot get enough money to provide high-quality educational experiences for all of the children they serve. I watch drowning children being pulled from the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I read about Islamic children being bullied in American schools just because they are Muslim. And I listen to Donald Trump fan hatred and xenophobia as a way to win the election. What is going on? How will exposure to this level of hatred influence the developing generations of young people all over the world? How can we best respond to these frightening challenges to the development of our children? I have never been this frightened for the future of our children. If you share my concerns, please do all you can to try to bring sanity, humility and humanity back to our political discourse so that we can help to foster positive human development.

Hoping to see you in Denver in August,

Jacque Eccles