La Crescenta teens inspired a decade-long study about adolescence for Chap Clark, Ph.D., who spoke at Crescenta Valley's first prayer breakfast Tuesday.
Clark first began substitute teaching at from 2001 to 2002. He came back to the area and spoke about what kids experience to a crowd of religious leaders, law enforcement officials and residents at in Montrose.
"A lot of wonderful beauty comes out of our young," Clark said, explaining that school officials knew about his study.
At the end of each class Clark mentioned that he was writing a book and received more than 1,000 poems, letters and notes from CVHS students.
"At the end of the day, I'd go back to my car and read these things and it killed me," Clark said.
One student told Clark there was a reason students would unpack their lives for him.
"You know why everybody's talking to you? You're the only adult without a hammer," Clark recalled.
The stories ultimately inspired his book Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers. Clark believes this is a generation that "has been systematically abandoned by adults."
Expectations, pressures to be great and conform to society's adults are making kids feel alone, Clark explained.
"Most will put their heads down and conform," Clark said.
Students talked about friendship, school, pressure, stress, sexuality and other issues only after Clark could break through a tough barrier or "impenetrable fortress" that students had built up.
"Most of academia doesn't spend more than 10 minutes looking into the eyes of kids... It was a mandate to tell my peers in the world... parents, coaches, teachers and everybody. This is the world we've handed our kids and its killing them. This is the most isolated generation," Clark said.
He asked parents to commit to seeking value in all children and reaching out to them.
"You have the power to either curse or bless with a glance," Clark said.
What do you think of the Crescenta Valley First Annual Prayer Breakfast? Will you attend next year? Do you think it's important for the community and religious leaders to meet and mingle with locals?