Carrie Gates | November 2, 2017
More than one billion children worldwide are growing up in communities where political violence and armed conflict are part of everyday life.
Mark Cummings, the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families Professor of Psychology at Notre Dame, wants to understand how that violence affects children’s emotional security and development — and, ultimately, give families the coping skills to improve children’s well-being.
With research projects in Northern Ireland, Colombia, Israel, Croatia, and Iran, to name a few, Cummings sees his international research as a natural extension of his groundbreaking work on emotional security and family relationships.
“I felt that children’s security also relates to broader aspects of the social ecology — including community and culture,” he said. “And I tested this notion in the research I’ve done in Northern Ireland. I found that not only does sectarian conflict affect children’s security about the community, but it also creates more family conflict, which in turn undermines children’s security about the family.”
Cummings recently won the 2017 Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology from the American Psychological Association’s developmental psychology section. The honor recognizes his work in the science of developmental psychology and his efforts to apply it to society.
Director of Notre Dame’s Family Studies Center and co-founder of the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families, Cummings has published more than 300 articles and a dozen books on children’s emotional security and adjustment. His most recent book, Political Violence, Armed Conflict, and Youth Adjustment, was published in April.