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Posted October 11, 2003 

The Seven Cries of Today's Teens
By: Timothy Smith
(In collaboration with George Gallup Jr.)
Nashville:Integrity:2003

[Reviewed by Lon Woodbury]

The author is a family pastor who has worked with adolescents for many years. The Gallup International Institute founded the Gallup Youth Survey 25 years ago to give society a reality check on what is going on in the hearts and minds of teens. This book is a result of a recent customized poll, interpreted against the backdrop of the trends over the past 25 years among teenagers as indicated by the 25-year series of polls.

The author calls the present generation of teens part of the millennial generation, or generation Y. The evidence collected indicates there is a strong trend among current teens to be more responsible, more generous, more traditional and more volunteer oriented than their parents had been as teenagers. They even want more time with their parents. Of course there is a right way and a wrong way for parents to "hang out" with teens, which the book discusses. He finds that teens are eager for clear rules to live by, are spiritually hungry, are open to relationships with people of different ages and cultures and backgrounds, are willing to work for a peaceful, healthy life, and are enthusiastic about helping others.

The heart of the book is devoted to seven needs, which the evidence show are almost universal needs modern teens have. The authors insist that behind the shocking appearances that many teens adopt, there is an almost universal desire for the following needs to be met.

1.) The need to be trusted - expressed by 92.7 %
2.) The need to be understood and loved - 92.2%
3.) The need to feel safe and secure where I live and go to school. - 92.1%
4.) The need to believe that life is meaningful and has purpose. - 91.6%
5.) The need to be listened to, to be heard. - 91.5%
6.) The need to be appreciated or valued. - 88.2%
7.) The need to be supported in my efforts. - 87.4%

In the book, each need is given its own chapter, with a fuller explanation of why teens consider it so important, common problems in helping teens meet these needs, and tips as to how parents can help meet that particular need.

The author asserts that teens are painfully aware the public has a negative image of them. And, the author concludes that this image, as well as the existence of these seven needs, show that as a society, we are not doing very well at raising our children. They hope that this book will help alleviate that problem by recommending concrete steps parents and child professionals can take to better help our children.

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