|The youth of America have been abandoned, says Chap Clark in his coming-of-age book Hurt. Clark gained this perspective on youth by spending several years in a high school getting to know them, gaining their trust and entering into their world. The advantage to this is that Clark may have gained more honest responses from high school youth than most sociologists do when they send out surveys. The flaw of this data collection is that it is just one high school in one area. This means that this book, while serving as an accurate representation of some youth culture, cannot be called absolute truth. Clark’s points may be generalized, but his premise is strong and most importantly, it’s logical. Youth have been abandoned and it’s up to us to reclaim them.
You might be asking how youth have been abandoned. Clark doesn’t mean to come down on parents and adults in general, but basically it’s because everyone is too self-involved. Many adults are still struggling to figure out their own personal identities, so they can’t help their children evolve and mature as people. Systems like sports, drama and even youth groups are all ways parents can abandon their children. Clark isn’t saying these things are negative in themselves, but once they are used to get the kids off their parents’ hands, then everyone’s motives need to be reexamined. Granted, this may not be the case for every youth or parent. But most youth at some point in their development will feel abandoned by someone they thought was important in their life. This leads to semi-permanent distrust that predominantly continues throughout the rest of adolescent development. Clark gives countless examples of this.
Another thing he talks about is how youth attempt to get out of their abandoned state and become part of the “world beneath,” a safer sub-culture where they find belonging.
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