A Book Review: Hurt 2.0 Inside the World of Today’s Teenager –Baker Academic, 2004 Dr. Chap Clark

Hurt 2.0

Chap Clark has dedicated his life to working with young people and had three teenagers of his own when he embarked on the task of understanding this age group. He thought he was well prepared, but one of his sons told him that no adult “gets” teenagers. Centerpiece to a team compiling research on the topic, Clark substituted for several months in a California high school that had a diverse demographic and performed well academically.

As a part of Part I – The Changing Adolescent World, he reports that while at the turn of the 20th Century people were classified as either children or adults, within 50 years adolescence became an in between stage. Now social scientists talk about early, mid and late adolescents. Throughout Clark’s time with these mid-adolescents, many adults made comments not recognizing the changes that have taken place. Clark’s premise is that teenagers are indeed different than those of the mid-20th century. Further, he presents that the transition from child to adult took about three years in the 1950s and now it takes up to 15 years. Freedoms once saved for late adolescence are now given to mid-adolescents. Dr. Clark’s scope lies primarily in understanding who these people are, with only some suggestions for resolution.

Chap believes that the defining issue for contemporary adolescents is abandonment. This study has convinced him that there is a far greater chasm between youth and adults than he and most adults have ever realized. David Elkind’s The Hurried Child describes how often parents overbook their children, often in age-inappropriate activities. In A Tribe Apart, Patricia Hersch reflects on how the teens of the 90’s were the most isolated and unsupervised to date. As a result of this abandonment, they form their own “family” with their peers. Around the age of fifteen abstract thought begins to develop and teens begin to realize that they need to find their spot in the adult world. If they don’t have a strong connection with a parent or other significant adult they gravitate toward their peers. Often these bonds are stronger than with their family. Finding a balance in their loyalty is a challenge. Rather than trying on different selves, Clark believes that teens operate primarily in this world “beneath.” Chap maintains that teens do not trust adults with their inner most life. Teens, according to Clark, do not believe that adults genuinely care about them.

In part 2 – the landscape of the world beneath Clark explores the following areas of the teen’s life: peers, school, family, sports, sex, busyness and stress, ethics and morality, partying, gaming and social networking, and kids at the margins (any margin – the vulnerable and the privileged). In this last section, the author talks about the three aspects of individuation: identity, autonomy and belonging. Identity reflects how we see ourselves; autonomy includes taking responsibility and making wise decisions; belonging reminds us that we are designed to be a part of a group – not isolated. Part 2 takes up half of the book and deserves more space in this review than I can give it. In the section on school, Chap reports that cheating is considered the norm. Also, I do want to say that Clark recognizes the importance of the family in the lives of teens.

Finally in part 3 – Where do we go from here? Clark offers some suggestions. When there was a shift from a “nurturing” focus to an institutional focus, much was lost. So returning to more nurturing is one step. As one teacher concluded – she needed to listen more. Also teens need a stable and secure presence as well as authentic, intimate relationships with adults. In the end, Clark offers five strategies to turn the tide of systemic abandonment:

  1. Train those who work with youth to understand today’s teens.
  2. Those working with youth must work together.
  3. Those who work with youth must understand them and provide boundaries.
  4. Parents must learn about their teens and encouraged in their parenting.
  5. Communities must be sure teens have a few significant adults advocating for the teens.

Currently, Clark is involved with an organization-www.Parenteen.org that is active in working out Clark’s suggestions presented in this and his other books.

                As I continue to explore this topic, I have the following concerns:

  1. While Clark’s stated scope of the book is observing the teen today and to begin the conversation of what to do about it, I wonder if more consideration should be placed on the causes to facilitate the solution.
  2. While Clark includes the family and church, in this book, they seem to be minor participants.

To Purchase:

Hurt 2.0 Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers by Dr. Chap Clark

 http://amzn.to/1mpDkHO

Adolescence Today

In my last blog entry I introduced the topic of today’s adolescence. (See:http://t.co/uC0fw3Hw14) During this exploration I will be reviewing books written on the subject. I welcome anyone’s comments here or on Facebook, but especially those parents who have teens and young adults in your family. For the privacy of these young people, those parents may answer these questions to my e-mail (maggie@centerforneurodevelopment.com or Private Message me on Facebook ).

Social scientists observe that the period of adolescence (between puberty and the time when individuals enter the adult world with all of its responsibilities) has extended from around three years to up to 15 years. They don’t necessarily offer reasons why this change, but I believe that part of the solution is knowing the causes. What do you thing causes this?

1. Why do young people go through puberty (onset of adolescence) many years earlier now than a century ago?

In a recent teleconference, Young Living Essential Oils users offered the use of synthetic, chemical based personal products such as lotions and perfumes as a cause. In their experience they have observed this.

Does your personal experience match this? What other causes do you offer?

2. What family-raising activities / styles affect the time span of adolescence (the completion of adolescence)? Can the following affect the change?

a. Christian family?

b. Homeschooling vs. Private School vs. Public School?

c. Children are given responsibilities, beginning at an early age and grow as they mature?

d. Family industries consider each family member as a part of the successful operation?

e. Birth order?

e. Other possible causes?

Teenagers – Introduction

          What are teenagers? What are they like? What makes them tick? What are their needs? How can we best meet their needs?

About a century ago our society had two classifications of people – children and adults. Later adolescence emerged in our thinking. Today, there are those who use three subdivisions of adolescents – early, mid and late (though the last group is usually called young or emerging adults). In the 1970s girls reached puberty and developmental maturity at age 14 or 15 while today puberty is reached at age 11 or 12, but developmental maturity does not emerge until about 19 or 20. (Chap Clark, PhD at Parenteen event, November 2013)

Teenagers of today make up part of the group of individuals that we call millennials or Generation Y, those born between 1982 and 2002. These individuals are digital natives, pampered and generally overprotected. This age group distinguishes itself with the idea that “it is all about them (or should be);” “they want what they want when they want it;”and “If they are gamers, winning is important and they think they can make the rules change.” Skills that are difficult for them include: patience, making hard choices, problem solving, appropriate response to authority, synthesizing ideas, and self-evaluation. (“Millennial Conversations: Engage Them and Keep Them Talking” Kathy Koch, Ph.D. Celebrate Kids, Inc. from Care Net training notes).

According to Chap Clark every child and adolescent needs: a family influence, attachment and a trajectory of community. He has proposed a Project 5-1 which means that each child or adolescent should have 5 adults with which he has a meaningful connection. (Chap Clark, Ph.D. Parenteen event, November, 2013)

Ms. Gopnik, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley wrote for The Wall Street Journal, January 28-29, 2012. Her article articulated the question, “What’s Wrong With the Teenage Mind?” She also asks, “What was he thinking?” Summarizing her thoughts she says, “If you think of the teenage brain as a car, today’s adolescents acquire an accelerator a long time before they can steer and brake.” One of the systems in the brain that contributes to the adolescent mind resides in the part that governs emotions and motivation. “It is very closely linked to the biological and chemical changes of puberty and involves the areas of the brain that respond to rewards.” (p. C1) Individuals can go from placid to restless, exuberant, emotionally intense” at 10 and back to placid as adults. “Recent studies in the neuroscientist B.J Casey’s lab at Cornell University suggest that adolescents aren’t reckless because they underestimate the risks, but because they overestimate rewards – or rather, find rewards more rewarding than adults do.”(p. C1) This fits with the fact that human children remain under the care of their parents for much longer than non-human children.

Second, the crucial system involved in the maturation of child compared to that of an adult, is the prefrontal cortex where control originates. “That is the system that inhibits impulses and guides decision-making that encourages long-term planning and delays gratification.” (p. C2)

In the past, these systems were more in sync. Examples of maturity emerging earlier include: Jane Eyre – teacher at 16, Joan of Arc led French troops at 17, and Alexander the Great, left in charge of Macedonia at age 16. (p. C2)

Gopnik makes the case that contemporary young people lack experience. She recommends apprenticeships and AmeriCorps. She concludes by saying, “The good news, in short, is that we don’t have to accept the developmental patterns of adolescent brains. We can actually shape and change them.” (“What’ Wrong With the Teenage Mind?” Ms. Gopnik, January 28-29, 2012) (Writer’s Note: Children are not allowed to gain real world experience by working at any age before high school graduation, with rare exceptions, in part because of past fears of exploitation. While not without some justification, it seems the pendulum has gone too far in the opposite direction and balance needs to be restored. What happened, for the most part, over a hundred years ago should not be the basis of policy today.)

Finally, in this introduction, Chap Clark identifies the adolescent’s main task as Individuation which includes developing Identity, Autonomy and Belonging. (Chap Clark, Ph. D, Parenteen event, November 2013.

I have in mind to review at least three books in the next months and then to draw conclusions on this topic using Scripture as the standard. Your comments are welcome.