Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name



Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Mary Lou Dietz

Second Advisor

J. Ferguson

Third Advisor

E. Carasco




This is an ethnographic study of SOSAD (Save Our Sons And Daughters), which is a Detroit-based, self-help organization of parents and relatives whose children have been killed by other children. This organization formed through the collective effort of a group of parents led by Ms. Clementine Barfield whose son was killed in Detroit. The organization has the following objectives: a) Providing a support group for the parents whose children are killed. b) Actions to increase awareness of the problem and to create programmes aimed toward prevention of crime and the protection of the community. c) Lobbying for legislation to prevent the sale and use of guns, particularly handguns. This research describes the history and formation of SOSAD and attempts to assess the ways in which SOSAD members construct their definitions of the problem of "kids killing kids", as well as their perspectives on the causes and solutions. It includes an assessment of the organization's potential and it's dual role as a self-help group and national grass-roots movement. This research includes a profile of the child and youth killings and patterns of killing for the years 1984-'88. A comparision of SOSAD with similar organizations in the war zones" in Los Angeles, Washington and Chicago is included along with a review of children in war in different parts of the world. This research mainly focusses on SOSAD and it's formation and on the processes and activities, which help it achieve the goal of curbing the problem of children killing children. A Symbolic Interaction perspective is adopted by this research. A qualitative methodology of participant observation and interactive interviews is utilised to obtain data about the organization. The conclusions drawn from the research are the following: a) SOSAD has an impact on the community. The organization has effectively raised the consciousness of the community regarding the problem. b) It's role as a counsellor and a support group helps the parents alleviate their grief. c) It voices the community's anguish against the increasing availability of drugs and guns. d) There are similar organizations which, like SOSAD, fight the problem of children killing children in some of the major cities of United States. SOSAD has acquired a position of organizations. leadership and the respect of the other This research involved the study of the organization, SOSAD, which began as self-help group and is now a nationally recognised national movement.