Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers

Book, 2004, 236 pp
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From body cutting to Columbine, the plight of today's adolescents is often front-page news. How can the church begin to understand the root causes of this turmoil? What can be done?

In Hurt, Chap Clark writes that today's adolescents operate within an environment in which adults have largely abdicated their responsibility to mold and shape teenagers' everyday lives. As a result, the behaviors once associated with the adolescent fringe--sexual promiscuity, for example--have become the norm in contemporary youth culture.

Clark, who spent six months as a participant-observer at a north Los Angeles County public school, applies a broad ethnomethodological approach to understanding contemporary adolescent life. He argues that the social and relational turmoil of the 1960s set in motion a chain of events that left many adults unable to cope with the demands of life. Adolescents, a group much in need of parental guidance, were a prime casualty of this development. The rejection of adolescents by adults, Clark writes, "is the root of the fragmentation and calloused distancing that are the hallmarks of adolescent culture."

After examining the changing face of adolescence, Clark maps the landscape of everyday teen life--looking at the issues, problems, and challenges endemic to youth culture. A final section suggests a way out, offering strategies to stem the tide of abandonment running rampant in our culture.

This provocative and disturbing account of contemporary adolescent culture will be a valuable addition to college and seminary courses, and it can be read with profit by youth ministry workers, counselors, pastors, parents, and anyone concerned about the youth of today. It is the first book in the new Youth, Family, and Culture series.

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