Since the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, great strides have been made in the areas of child protection and advocacy. However, the concept of children, and specifically adolescents, as functional and engaged citizens has also emerged. Through the guidance and recognition of adults, children can participate in deliberative democracy as legitimate and competent citizens. This citizenship, like that of adults, can be used to enrich and improve local communities by creating a sense of ownership and fairness. Dr. Earls presented research on child participation, child citizenship and their relationship to exposure to violence. The theories and practices guiding this research originated in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods and have continued to evolve in different settings around the world.
Dr. Earls was the Special Editor of the January 2011 ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, which focuses on conceptual, legal, and practical issues related to the realization of children as citizens.