As with all social institutions, learning about law and how to relate to it is an important part of growing up. In Why Children Follow Rules, Tom R. Tyler and Rick Trinkner focus on legal socialization, the process by which children and adolescents form their orientation toward the law, and outline what is known about the process across three related, but distinct, contexts: family, school, and the juvenile justice system. They emphasize the degree to which individuals develop their orientations toward law upon values of responsibility and obligation, as opposed to fear of punishment. They further argue that when individuals experience authority that is fair, respectful, and aware of the limits of power, they are more likely to consent and voluntarily follow directives. Yet, strong pressures and popular support for the exercise of authority based on dominance and force persist. Given the low levels of public trust and confidence in the police, as well as the legal system in general, Why Children Follow Rules offers an invaluable tool for understanding how people come to understand their relationship with the law.
About the Author
Tom R. Tyler is the Macklin Fleming Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale University. Rick Trinkner is Assistant Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University.