Changing Youth in a Changing Society begins with a complete survey of the problems of youth, showing which disorders peak during the teenage years. With this background of fact firmly established, Michael Rutter turns to the difficult historical questions about whether adolescent disorders are truly becoming more frequent. Here Rutter shows that the news is not uniformly bad. Some psychosocial problems, such as teenage alcoholism and crime, are still on the rise. But other problems, among them the much heralded generation gap, turn out to be largely mythical. Still others, like the decline in educational achievement, may only reflect historical changes in the population of teenagers being assessed.
Rutter’s historical analysis supports a comprehensive discussion of the causes of adolescent disorder. The effects of heredity, childhood, family, school, peer group, religion, the media, and the urban environment are all assessed in review of research which is a model of clarity and good sense. This review provides the factual framework for informed recommendations for more effective prevention and treatment of adolescent disorders.