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Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers (Youth, Family, and Culture) Paperback – October 1, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

About the Author

Chap Clark (Ph.D., University of Denver) is associate professor of youth, family, and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he also serves as director of the Student Leadership Project and Institute of Youth Ministry. He has a wide background in Young Life, Youth Specialties, and pastoral ministry and is the author of over ten books.

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Product Details

  • Series: Youth, Family, and Culture
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Book House; Reprinted edition (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801027322
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801027321
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven R. Norris on December 21, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Imagine this, taking a sabatical from your career as a seminary professor, and instead of resting or reflecting during your time off, you elect to teach public high school for a year, all with the intent of better understanding the lives and culture of young people.

This choice to teach high school was the basis for Chap Clark's groundbreakign book, "Hurt", which I heartily recommend to anyone connected with middle and high schoolers in America. As a former youth worker and parent of a teenager (and another approaching teenage) I cannot say enough about this book for its clear perception of the state of youth culture.

Prepare to be surprised, shocked, offended, and awakened to the state of our youth. This book will make you mad, sad, scared, and hopeful. Prepare for a paradigm shift. Clark has done careful research of the world of high school students, and his work examines their world of "clusters", or friendship groups, and also includes insightful glimpses of the social world, moral confusion, lonliness, and sexual behavior of our young.

I say "our young" because they really belong to us. This is our country's future, and Clark points out in vividly clear language the pain they face, the confusion they deal with, and the ways we adults have abandoned them.

However, this book is not a complete downer. Each chapter ends with hopeful suggestions for change; ways in which the cultural afflictions young people face can be healed. Hope is abundant, and change is possible.

If you truly care about middle and high schoolers, this book is for you! Make it your book club choice, buy it for your friends, fellow teachers, adminstrators, school board members, and youth workers!
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Format: Paperback
My roommate was given this book a few months back. Since I work with the Jr. High group at church, I figured I might find it helpful, so picked it up. What I found was a thought provoking book on today's youth sub-culture.

The book focuses most on high school students or mid-adolescents as the author calls them. His premise is that adults have started abandoning kids early in life, making the transition from childhood to adulthood a longer and harder process. Teens draw away from adults, not as much out of rebellion, but to cope. The majority of this book is devoted to various aspects of teen life and how it develops and plays out. Chapters such as Peers, School, Family, and Sports hit the nail on the head. And I'll confess I found some shocking stuff in the chapters on Sex, Ethics, and the Party Scene.

I did have some problems with this book. At times, it seemed to go too far into the self-esteem trap. Yes, we need to care for kids, but we also need to acknowledge that not everyone is created equal, something that seemed to be over looked at times. Still, most his examples were of things going too far in the other direction, which makes his points very valid.

Another area was the various ethics discussions. While many of these chapters were eye opening for me, he never addressed ways to teach morals. In fact, he seems to blame adults for problems such as cheating but never blames the kids or discuss how the problem should be addressed.

The last two chapters are a discussion of ways to solve the problem of abandonment, but they seem to be impractical and fall short. City wide meetings for everyone involved with youth? What we really need is a radical shift in our entire culture. Not that I'm exactly sure how to go about doing that, either.
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Format: Paperback
You MUST read this book if you have or work with teenagers! Mr. Clark's insights are fresh and deep. There is no surface content in this book, yet the writing is clear and accessible for anyone. His research and conclusions are of the utmost importance and will change the way you view the teenagers you thought you knew, or reinforce both your greatest hopes and worst fears. I heard Mr. Clark speak at a youth worker conference shortly after reading this book and was moved by his heartfelt concern for the youth of our nation.
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Below is the book review I submitted to Group Magazine regarding this book.

This is an academic resource that differs from most in that it describes what the adolescent culture of today looks like through the eyes of those who live it.

Dr. Chap Clark has given those who care for, and work with youth another gem. This resource is for any adult (parents, counselors, teachers, professional youth workers) that has significant interaction with teenagers. Most importantly, this book offers wisdom and insight as to how to connect with teens that are abandoned and hurt. A major premise (and proof) of this book is that these abandoned and hurt teens are not just the "at-risk" youth, but a shockingly large group of students that have been left behind by well intentioned adults and their created programs. You will not find "over-talked" postmodern rhetoric in this book. You will find compelling, hard-hitting data that clearly states the crisis that teenagers are experiencing today. Hurt will be difficult for some to read because it challenges the very landscape its readers have created. Further, it is a deep book and could be challenging for some with limited reading skill level.
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