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Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers (Youth, Family, and Culture)

If parents, educators, and youth workers were to read only one book about helping adolescence—this would be the one. Chap Clark managed to get inside the world of US teenagers and reveal the depths of angst, pressure and loneliness they feel. Hurt is a illuminates the under layers of teen culture, the places where adolescents are most honest and vulnerable, only to discover that today's youth are indeed a tribe apart—and it is the adults who have isolated them. Most of Clark's research took place in Crescenta Valley High School in north Los Angeles County. One might wonder how a middle-aged dad could get inside the heads of so many teens from so many walks of life. He did this by doing what most adults are unwilling to do—spending time with teens and asking questions, by showing a genuine curiosity in their world and a willingness to hear their answers without judgment. The results are riveting. Ultimately this is an indictment of our increasingly adult-centric society that is more invested in adult interests than the individual needs of our youth. By the time adolescents enter high school, most have been subjected to at least a decade of adult-driven agendas. He slams coaches who are so invested in winning at youth sports that they leave mediocre athletes on the bench or pull them off the team. He points to the once playful dance classes that somehow morph into intensive dance training and regional competitions. Or the high school junior who faces a nightly four-to-five hour marathon of homework only to rise at 7 a.m. for morning band practice before AP calculus. We reward youth for their adult-pleasing achievements, failing to consider the price of isolation, stress and fear of failing that this generates. Clark (the author of Daughters & Dads 1576830489 and From Father to Son 1576832945) concludes the book with solid recommendations for turning this tide. Unfortunately, he often defends his research and recommendations, as if a critical academic was looking over his shoulder. The truth is this book belongs less to the world of academics and more appropriately in the hands of anyone who lives with or directly works with teenagers. --Gail Hudson

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