Monthly Article Archives: May 2011

“Race to Nowhere”: Stress and Our Youth – Part IIRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

Last month I discussed “Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture,” a thought-provoking documentary that is receiving well-deserved publicity throughout the United States. I noted that concerned school and community groups have arranged to show this movie as a catalyst for parents, educators, childcare professionals, and community members to engage in a dialogue about the epidemic of unrealistic expectations, pressures, and stresses that are confronting today’s youth. I watched the movie with hundreds of others at the Charles River School in Dover, Massachusetts and then served as the moderator for the lively discussion that followed. Vicki Abeles is the documentary’s creator and director. Several factors prompted her to create “Race to Nowhere,” perhaps the most important of which was witnessing her 12-year-old daughter being diagnosed with stress induced illness. Abeles writes, “After months of long evenings battling homework assignments, studying for tests and panic attacks in the middle of the night, we found her doubled over in pain, and rushed her to the emergency room. Her cheerful facade and determination to keep up had masked her symptoms to us, to her friends, and to her teachers.” Abeles reports that although she and her husband initiated changes in

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