Child Development Special Section: Highlighting Indigenous Child Development: Edges and Possibilities in State-of-the-Art Research

The deadline to submit has passed.

Child Development invites manuscripts for a Special Section on Highlighting Indigenous Child Development: Edges and Possibilities in State-of-the-Art Research. The Special Section Co-Editors are Megan Bang, Ph.D.* (Northwestern University), Monica Tsethlikai, Ph.D.* (Arizona State University), Ashley Cole, Ph.D. (Oklahoma State University), Adam Hoffman Ph.D. (Cornell University), Stephanie Fryberg, Ph.D. (University of Michigan), and Florrie Ng, Ph.D. (The Chinese University of Hong Kong).  

Note:  (*) Indicates co-leadership.  

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About the Special Section

Indigenous populations, including American Indians, Alaska Natives, First Nations, and other groups that represent the first peoples of places spanning the globe, have largely been overlooked or excluded from child development research (Thompson et al., 2012; Shepherd & Zubrick, 2012). Further, much of the existing Indigenous child development research has examined negative behaviors, outcomes, and pathologies (e.g., academic failure, mental health problems, substance use disorders, and suicide), while failing to acknowledge existing strengths, resilience, and unique cultural practices among Indigenous children, youth, and families (Denham, 2008; Kirmayer et al., 2011; Kirmayer et al., 2014). The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) has noted this dearth of research on Indigenous children and youth and the organizers of the 2021 SRCD Biennial Conference included a solicited call for research focused on Indigenous children, youth, and families in the conference. We aim to advance the efforts of the 2021 SRCD conference organizers by inviting Indigenous scholars and scholars who work with Indigenous children, youth, and families to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) for a Special Section of Child Development. We believe this Call is timely, particularly given the current socio-political climate, the negative disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and the racial reckoning syndemic among Indigenous communities across the world (Sandoiu, 2020; Urbatsch, 2020). This Call is also consistent with the SRCD Publication Committee’s Statement on Anti-racism, Equity, and Inclusion in SRCD Publications, adopted by the Governing Council of SRCD and released in December 2020.

The diversity of Indigenous peoples globally, and thus the developmental experiences of Indigenous children and youth, is remarkable. There are between 370 and 500 million Indigenous peoples, speaking 96% of the world’s languages (more than 4,000 different languages), with a wide variety of political standing from sovereign nations with self-determining governments, to those engaged in struggle for political recognition and rights (e.g., Harmon & Loh, 2010; United Nations Working Forum on Indigenous Peoples, 2019). For example, Indigenous peoples are responsible for the caretaking of nearly 25% of the world’s land base, which reflects 80% of the world’s biodiversity (e.g., Garnett et al., 2018). Thus, we would like to highlight state-of-the-art papers that showcase research with Indigenous children and youth from an array of community settings (e.g., reservations, reserves, homelands, and urban areas) and places (e.g., United States, New Zealand, Mexico). Papers that are of interest for this Special Section will feature empirical research (i.e., quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods) that highlights these diverse contexts and the implications that they have for developmental processes among Indigenous children and youth. 

We invite manuscript submissions that examine development from across the full range of child development (including but not limited to biological, cognitive, social-emotional, physical, and psychological development). In particular, we will seek manuscript submissions that emphasize identifying and understanding cultural and strengths-based factors (e.g., Indigenous ways of knowing, ethnic-racial identity or socialization, and cultural traditions) that Indigenous children, youth, and families may cultivate and leverage to promote positive healthy development. Though research that clarifies the challenges that Indigenous youth, families, and communities face remains important, for this Special Section, we are particularly interested in scholarship that works to understand or create the conditions for healthy and thriving development for Indigenous children and youth. For example, research on culturally adapted interventions or interventions developed with Indigenous communities (e.g., community-engaged research and community-based participatory research) are welcome. Thus, we encourage submissions that explore Indigenous child and youth development from within Indigenous paradigms that is methodologically rigorous and innovative. We anticipate receiving manuscripts that focus on specific Indigenous communities, as well as those that may work across multiple Indigenous communities. In this Special Section, we aim to accept approximately six papers that match Child Development’s high methodological rigor and impact standards. To ensure diverse representation, a limit of one LOI per lab group will be implemented for this Special Section.

Timeline and Detailed Submission Requirements

May 27, 2022

Authors who plan to submit a manuscript for the special section must submit a letter of intent (LOI) through the SRCD application site by May 27, 2022. The LOI MUST include:

  • a tentative title
  • an author list and contact details
  • a brief scientific case (approximately 1000 words) for consideration of the proposed submission
  • the proposed methods and initial findings

The LOI should also emphasize how the proposed manuscript will advance scholarship on Indigenous children and youth with particular attention to innovation and scientific rigor and focus on strengths-based or cultural factors.

The Special Section Co-Editors will review letters of intent for fit with the section and work to provide the broadest representation of high-quality papers.

June 15, 2022

Following a review of the LOIs, potential contributors will be contacted by June 15, 2022 and asked to submit a full manuscript. Submissions should not exceed 40 pages in length, inclusive of everything (body text, references, tables/figures, etc.). Extensive use of web supplements is also strongly encouraged. Please review the Child Development Submission Guidelines for additional requirements.

Please also include ‘Indigenous:’ at the start of your paper title within the editorial system for processing purposes. (Note: The addition will not be included in publication).

September 1, 2022 Invited manuscripts should be submitted through Child Development’s submission portal by September 1, 2022. Note: This is a different submission portal than will be used for the LOI.  All manuscripts will undergo Child Development’s rigorous peer review process.
December 1, 2022 Request for revisions will be sent back to authors by December 1, 2022.
April 30, 2023 Revised manuscripts should be submitted through Child Development’s submission portal.
June 16, 2023 A final decision will be rendered by June 16, 2023. Accepted manuscripts will be published online following receipt of required author paperwork and author proof-review.
September/October 2023 Expected issue publication.

IMPORTANT: All LOIs must be submitted through the SRCD Special Section Application Site. LOIs submitted by email or through the Child Development submission portal will not be considered for the collection.

Application portal 

Submitting your Letter of Intent (LOI)

To access the application, click the link above and use your SRCD credentials to log in to the SRCD application site. If you do not already have an SRCD account, you can create one by clicking on “Create an Account Login Now” at the bottom of the login page. Please note that you do NOT need to be an SRCD member to have an SRCD account. Contact for assistance with the submission portal.


If your question concerns the substance of submissions, please direct it to the Special Section editors: Megan Bang, Ph.D. (, Monica Tsethlikai, Ph.D. (, Ashley Cole, Ph.D. (, Adam Hoffman Ph.D. (, Stephanie Fryberg, Ph.D. (, and Florrie Ng, Ph.D. (

If your question concerns the submission process, please contact SRCD’s Publications Manager at,

If your question concerns technical difficulties with the application portal, please contact

REMINDER: Do not submit LOIs by email to the Co-Editors or Publications Office or through the Child Development journal submission portal. LOIs must be submitted through the SRCD application site detailed above to be considered.

Application portal



Denham, A. R. (2008). Rethinking historical trauma: Narratives of resilience. Transcultural Psychiatry, 45, 391-414.

Garnett, S. T., Burgess, N. D., Fa, J. E., Fernández-Llamazares, Á., Molnár, Z., Robinson, C. J., ... & Leiper, I. (2018). A spatial overview of the global importance of Indigenous lands for conservation. Nature Sustainability, 1, 369-374.

Harmon, D., & Loh, J. (2010). The index of linguistic diversity: A new quantitative measure of trends in the status of the world's languages. Language Documentation & Conservation, 4, 97-151.

Kirmayer, L. J., Dandeneau, S., Marshall, E., Phillips, M. K., & Williamson, K. J. (2011). Rethinking resilience from Indigenous perspectives. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 56(2), 84-91.

Kirmayer, L. J., Gone, J. P., & Moses, J. (2014). Rethinking historical trauma. Transcultural Psychiatry, 51(3), 299-319.

Shepherd, C., & Zubrick, S. (2012). What shapes the development of Indigenous children. Survey analysis for Indigenous policy in Australia: Social Science Perspectives, CAEPR Research Monograph, 32, 79-102.

Thompson, N. L., Whitesell, N. R., Galliher, R. V., & Gfellner,, B. M. (2012). Unique challenges of child development research in sovereign nations in the United States and Canada. Child Development Perspectives, 6, 61-65.

Sandoiu, A. (2020, July 6). The effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of Indigenous communities. Medical News Today.

Urbatsch, D., & Robledo, J. (2020). Native American groups address mental and behavioral health as COVID-19 wears on. Cronkite News – Arizona PBS.