Author Offers Insights into Teenage Experience

Dr. Chap Clark spoke to a audience of parents and kids at the MacDonald Auditorium on Tueaday night.
Dr. Chap Clark spoke to a audience of parents and kids at the MacDonald Auditorium on Tueaday night.


Tuesday opened and closed with Dr. Chap Clark.

The professor of youth, family and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary spoke on his experiences with youth at an early morning prayer breakfast held at Holy Redeemer Healy Hall. On Tuesday evening, he continued to share his observations during a presentation at the MacDonald Auditorium at Crescenta Valley High School.

Clark is a former substitute teacher at CV. During his time there, during the 2001-02 school year, he worked with adolescents, eventually compiling data for his 2004 book, “Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers.”

“It’s hard to be a parent, but one thing is certain, it’s hard to be a kid too today,” he said in greeting to the room full of parents and teens.

He went on to say that kids today have less social capital or help from adults, whether that be from parents or teachers, in figuring out how to adjust to adulthood, which contribute to feelings of isolation and hinders their success at solving what Clark calls the three biggest questions of adolescence: “Who am I? Do I matter? Does anyone care?”

Clark added that the pressure teens face due to expectations, often parental ones in particular, make it more difficult for teens to identify who they want to be as an adult.

After Clark presented his findings, a four-student youth panel addressed whether they agreed or disagreed with Clark’s assessment of today’s teenager.

CV senior Molly Shelton said, “Because of the world we live in, there’s not an easy way out of this. In my opinion, if I didn’t get to college, my life would be over. So if my parents didn’t support me or push me to a certain extent, I wouldn’t feel like they were supporting me or that they didn’t want me to succeed.”

Clark responded that there must be a balance between “encouraging the trajectory you’re on and hammering you when you’re not going fast enough.”

The panel did agree with other findings of Clark’s, such as the idea that teens feel pressured to present “multiple selves” in various social situations, as in acting a certain way in one class or another, with these other selves often times not being in concert with how they truly feel.

Clark’s book, “Hurt,” was revised in 2011 as “Hurt 2.0,” with new chapters and material.

To learn of Clark’s presentation at Healy Hall, visit the Religion Section.