At 12 years old, Joshua Nichols has been questioned by federal agents, interviewed on network television, removed from school -- not for wrongs he's committed. His father, Terry Nichols, stands accused in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Josh Nichols' life as an anonymous seventh-grader is over.
How do children of notorious parents cope? Others have survived transfigured childhoods, their early years scarred by accusations against their parents.
They include the sons of the Rosenbergs, executed in 1953 for conspiracy to spy for the Soviet Union, and the daughters of Lee Harvey Oswald, presidential assassin. And they include people such as Sam R. Sheppard, whose father, Dr. Sam Sheppard, served 10 years in prison before he was acquitted, in a second trial, of his wife's murder.
They are children who grew up knowing that, in most of America, their parents were reviled.
But the children endured.
"You would be surprised how resilient children are," said Robert Meeropol, younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who was 6 when his parents were executed.
"I was very proud of my father and continue to be very proud of my father," said Tony Hiss, who was 7 in 1948, when Alger Hiss was accused of being a Communist agent. "It was always clear to me that he had done nothing wrong."
Each case is different, and much depends on the child's personal strengths and intelligence, said Bruno Anthony, a clinical child psychologist and assistant professor in the psychiatry department of the University of Maryland.
"You find there are kids at great risk who fall by the wayside," Dr. Anthony said. "And then you find these resilient children, like dandelions growing in a barren field. They have something within them that allows them to prosper even in the worst circumstances."
Some of those children, along with child-development experts, say the keys to emotional survival are a strong, early bond with the parent and a support system that nurtures the child without asking him to renounce his mother or father.
"You have some kids who are just survivors and others who are crushed," said Gilda Zwerman, a sociology professor at the State University of New York at Old Westbury.
the kid grows up, they're going to have to evaluate their parents and what their parents have done," Dr. Zwerman said.
For some, the evaluation is straightforward.
"If they could prove somehow that he was innocent, he'd still not be a hero . . . " June Oswald Porter, elder daughter of Lee Harvey Oswald, told the New York Times Magazine last month.
"This is the man who beat our mother, who didn't provide for his children." She felt loved by her mother and stepfather, "so I've never felt this big need to connect with Lee or do the daughter-father thing."
But for children such as Mr. Meeropol, who believes his parents were framed amid anti-Communist hysteria, it was important to grow up among people who loved his parents.
"There were tens of thousands of people who supported my parents during that period," Mr. Meeropol recalled. "It gave us a context of support."
Ron Delpit, a spokesman for Josh Nichols' mother, Lana Padilla, said the boy also has people he can rely on -- an extended family and loyal friends who have stayed close even when the FBI was investigating whether Josh was "John Doe No. 2."
At Cannon Middle School in Las Vegas, which Josh attended until his father was linked to the bombing, Principal Chris Erbe said, "There seems to be quite a lot of sympathy for Josh in our student body. They seem to think he's being picked on."
Mr. Delpit said that Josh "has got a good sense of humor. He laughs easily. He's not a brooding kind of kid at all."
But he has had to endure hearing his father called a "baby killer." He has had to watch his father, in a bulletproof vest and handcuffs, rushed into courthouses and prisons. He believes steadfastly in his father.
"He's got absolutely unconditional support for his father," Mr. Delpit said. "When I watch him watch television, he always picks up on anything positive. If they pick up another suspect, he says, 'Well, maybe this will help clear my dad.' "
But his family knows that "all of this may not have hit home," Mr. Delpit said. They've arranged for counseling. "He'll have to deal with this the rest of his life. This will not end with the trial, no matter what the outcome."
Child's world lost
Sam R. Sheppard, who was 7 when his mother was murdered and his father was accused of killing her, said the aftershocks of his father's arrest mark him still. "My whole universe was lost and changed," he said.
He was raised by an aunt and uncle who believed in his father's innocence. Other people who offered to take in Mr. Sheppard thought his father was guilty. "I hate to think what would have happened to me if I had grown up in a situation like that," he said.
He was grateful for the stability his aunt and uncle provided. But "I considered I never had a home again. My home was gone. If I had a home, it was in prison with my dad."