In 2004 I read an eye-opening book called Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers, by Chap Clark. Dr. Clark is a youth ministry veteran who is currently the editor for YouthWorker Journal. In preparation for the book, he not only researched widely about adolescents, but he decided to be a substitute teacher for a year in a public high school to get inside the minds of midadolescents (14-20 year olds).
After studying this generation carefully, Clark concluded: “In this study I found a far wider relational and social chasm exists between adults and adolescents than I had previously considered.” In other words, the defining characteristic of midadolescents today is their abandonment by adults. Students spend only 4.8 percent of their time with parents and 2 percent of their time with adults who are not their parents. Now wonder between 14 and 15 percent of teens in North America report engaging in some form of self-injury (Chapter 9).