The April 2014 issue of The Atlantic is now available online—with features, dispatches, and essays summarized and provided below:
Cover Story: The Overprotected Kid
"Hey! Parents," writes The Atlantic's national correspondent Hanna Rosin. "Leave those kids alone." In this month's cover story, Rosin exposes the consequences of overprotective parenting: how the rising preoccupation with safety has transformed childhood, stripping it of independence, risk-taking, and discovery. New research shows that this helicopter parenting does more harm than good, robbing kids of creativity and courage, without actually making them any safer. Rosin explains how our safety-obsessed society came to be, and explores the emerging countermovement. Traveling to Wales, she visits a radical new breed of playground that allows kids to manipulate their surroundings, and seems more like a junkyard (with water obstacles, tires, and even fires) than the mulch-and-rubber surfaces of today. At TheAtlantic.com, see Rosin's story in the new responsive feature template, where you can also watch a video of kids playing at the Wales playground, The Land.
Is Stop and Frisk Worth It?
"'Get on the car!' Kiairus Diamond has heard these words from Newark police on three occasions in the past several months ... Kiairus, a sophomore, sat with Roman Richardson, a senior, and Joshua Rodriguez, a junior ... Roman and Joshua have heard it, too: Roman once, and Joshua, in one form or another, 12 times." When a New York judge ruled last summer that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional, civil-rights activists rejoiced. But law-enforcement officials are facing one of the biggest policy changes they have ever seen. Daniel Bergner embeds himself in Newark, New Jersey, a community that has been battling with stop-and-frisk, to provide a close examination of the policy from all angles. In extensive ride-alongs with the police, conversations with those stopped, and interviews with community leaders, Bergner seeks to address the loudest and most painful present debate in American criminal justice: Are young men of color being unfairly—and unconstitutionally—singled out?
Field of Schemes
In a small Iowa town, Hollywood turned a cornfield into the set for what would become an instant classic. Since Field of Dreams debuted 25 years ago, the site had been a quiet tourist attraction. But when Chicago developers recently purchased the space, with grand plans to turn it into a mega baseball complex, it left the community bitterly divided. Adam Doster travels to Dubuque County in search of the answer to a curious question: Should the field's fake authenticity be preserved?
The Case for Strong Mayors
National correspondent James Fallows makes a case for why cities work when Washington doesn't: strong mayors. As part of his American Futures dispatches, Fallows focuses on Greenville, South Carolina, and Burlington, Vermont—cities whose stories have surprising points of resonance. Travel in smaller-town America leaves Fallows optimistic: "Once you look away from the national level, the American style of self-government can seem practical-minded, non-ideological, future-oriented, and capable of compromise."
- Hoop Dreams: Tanking is taking over the NBA draft. Teams stand accused of tearing apart their rosters to land a top draft pick, who they assume will lead them to salvation. Senior editor Derek Thompson looks at the seductive psychology of a strategy that seldom works. Read more
- Why Rich Women Don't Get Fat: For April's Chartist, associate editor Olga Khazan looks at the research behind why poor communities struggle with obesity, and how wealth shrinks women's waistlines while expanding men's. Read more
- The Madness of Matthew Weiner: On the eve of the show's final season, the Mad Men creator talks with national correspondent Hanna Rosin about disappointment, redemption, and his dreamlike perception of everyday life. An extended Q&A with Weiner is at TheAtlantic.com. Read more
- In this month's Study of Studies, associate editor Julie Beck takes us to the workplace, to examine "The Optimal Office." Standing desks? Open office plans? Plenty of sun? How better design could fix your workday, and your life.Read more
- In Defense of Empire: Empires ensure stability and protect minorities better than any other form of order. National correspondent Robert D. Kaplan explains why the Obama administration must nourish a tempered imperialism. Read more
- Have We Hit Peak Punctuation?: A century and a half after Victor Hugo started the trend of exclamations as conversation—cabling "?" to his publisher, inquiring about the sales of Les Misérables—staff writer Megan Garber notes that we are in the twilight of exclamatory excess. Sorry, little guy :(. Read more
The Culture File & Essay:
- The Junkie Genius: Contributing editor James Parker looks at a new biography of n American writer William S. Burroughs that reveals him to be both ghastlier and more impressive than we previously thought. Read more
- Hitler's Airport: Berlin is caught between the future and the past, writes Nathaniel Rich. It has sought to bury every trace of its recent, terrible history, but with one vast exception: a glorious park has emerged, a remnant of its Nazi past. Read more
- Twelve Guys Walk Into a Bar ...: Does getting drunk make you funnier? You might think so, but contributing editor Wayne Curtis finds some studies that reach a different conclusion—you aren't funnier, you just think you are. Read more
- "What the Hell's the Presidency For?": In this month's essay, Michael O'Donnell writes that new accounts of the Civil Rights Act are revealing the true hero behind the historic legislation—and its not the Supreme Court. It's LBJ. Read More
Finally, the back-page Big Question asks: Who is the greatest fictional character of all time? Actor Alec Baldwin, Girls creator Lena Dunham, Goosebumps author R. L. Stine, and more chime in.
These articles and more are featured in the April issue of The Atlantic, available today, March 20, 2014, on TheAtlantic.com and mobile devices, and on newsstands next week.