Anyone caring for girls today knows that our daughters, students, and girls next door are more anxious and more prone to depression and self-harming than ever before. As award-winning writer Donna Jackson Nakazawa deftly explains in Girls on the Brink, new findings reveal that the crisis facing today’s girls is a biologically rooted phenomenon: the earlier onset of puberty mixes badly with the unchecked bloom of social media and cultural misogyny. When this toxic clash occurs during the critical neurodevelopmental window of adolescence, it can alter the female stress-immune response in ways that derail healthy emotional development.
But our new understanding of the biology of modern girlhood yields good news, too. Though puberty is a particularly critical and vulnerable period, it is also a time during which the female adolescent brain is highly flexible and responsive to certain kinds of support and scaffolding. Indeed, we know now that a girl’s innate sensitivity to her environment can, with the right conditions, become her superpower. Drawing on insights from both the latest science and interviews with girls about their adolescent experiences, the author carefully guides adults through fifteen “antidote” strategies to help any teenage girl thrive in the face of stress, including how to nurture the parent-child connection through the rollercoaster of adolescence. Neuroprotective and healing, the strategies in Girls on the Brink amount to a new playbook for how we — parents, families, and the human tribe — can secure a healthy emotional inner life for all of our girls