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Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe

by Jess P. Shatkin, MD, MPH

Book Reviews

“Adolescence is a risky time of life. Enter Jess Shatkin, a consummate and experienced professional whose fresh insights and practical advice move our understanding into the 21st century. Born to Be Wild is a game-changer.”
—Madeline Levine, Ph.D., author of The Price of Privilege and Teach Your Children Well

“From the opening paragraph, it’s crystal clear that you’re embarking on a fascinating ride helmed by a masterful storyteller. Born to Be Wild should be in the hands of every parent. It will not only help you raise resilient teens but also save lives.”
—Michele Borba Ed.D., Educational Psychologist and author of UnSelfie

“From Socrates to Shakespeare, adults have always worried about young people. We fear and envy them too, but now with Born to Be Wild, we finally have a chance to understand them. Grounded in a lifetime of clinical judgment and compassion, this scientifically riveting and ultimately hopeful account will help adolescents and their families to survive and thrive.”
—Erika Christakis, bestselling author of The Importance of Being Little

“Born to be Wild treats adolescents and their brains with respect and affection, bringing science and also sympathy to bear on neurologic processes and social pressures to help all of us--parents, teachers, clinicians-- understand the ways that adolescents make their choices and decisions, and how we can help them choose wisely and safely. This book should be on your shelf if you live with or work with adolescents. It will help you understand the people you love and your own development as well.”
—Perri Klass, MD, Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics, New York University

“Yes, it’s incisive, engaging and beautifully written. Yes, it’s well grounded in the science and provides practical, clear and thoughtful advice. But what I found most outstanding, at an emotional level, is that this book brought me back to myself as a teenager, reliving a state of mind I had almost forgotten--and it gave me a clearer notion of what was actually going on inside my brain.”
—Harold Alan Pincus, M.D., Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University

“Why is age twenty-six the new eighteen? Why do adults make the best decisions using the least information? This fascinating and illuminating book will help you understand and influence your teenager, and yourself.”
—Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., bestselling author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

“In this extremely accessible volume, Dr. Shatkin makes sense of humorous, irrational, curious or dangerous adolescent behaviors. Based on a more accurate understanding of how teenagers think and feel, parents and other adults who interact with teens are provided with more effective approaches to deal with adolescent risk taking.”
Gregory K. Fritz, MD, President, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

“Refreshingly honest, empathic, and written with a clarity that can help parents, educators and health professionals accept and understand why risk-taking is often part of teen behavior.”
Robie H. Harris, author of It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health

“This book by one of America’s leading child psychiatrists is a must read for anyone working with or raising adolescents. It demystifies this too-often baffling period of life and most importantly shares what we can all do as parents, teachers, and society at large to help turn our adolescents away from unsafe risks and toward a safe and healthy future.”
—Dave Levin, KIPP Co-Founder

“Skillfully integrating the latest scientific findings with expert clinical acumen, Dr. Shatkin has done a masterful job of capturing the complexities and contradictions that define the teenage years. Anyone who has teens, knows teens, works with teens, or even was a teen needs to read this book!”
—John Piacentini, Ph.D., ABPP, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA

“Take what you know about your teenager and risk-taking and chuck it out the window. (Carefully, because you’re an adult.) While giving you research-based tools to curbing the truly dangerous activities teenagers engage in, Born to be Wild is also a joyous celebration of teenagers and their sometimes-inexplicable impulsiveness. Born to Be Wild is smart, funny, and deeply comforting.”
—Judith Newman, author of To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and The Kindness of Machines

Born to Be Wild is for everyone who wants to develop the tools to connect better with adolescents – parents, teachers, policy makers, and, in my case, writer-performers.”
—Ilana Glazer, comedian, co-creator and star of Broad City

“This book is brilliantly written, incredibly informative, and presented in a comfortable down-to-earth manner. It is definitely going to be my new go-to referral reading for parents, educators, and therapists who will better understand why kids do the darndest things.”
—Dr Laura Schlessinger, Marriage and Family Therapist, SiriusXM Radio host

“Jess Shatkin’s book is a must-read….With colorful personal stories, he weaves a brilliant, highly readable and scientifically grounded analysis of the paradox of adolescence. Without a doubt, parents, teachers, policymakers, and anyone who wants to better understand themselves, their children or the younger generation will benefit from reading this book.”
—Kathleen M. Pike PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Global Mental Health Program at Columbia University Medical Center

“Crafted with medical and scientific toughmindedness, empathy and compassion by one of the world’s experts in adolescent emotional and behavioral development...Born to Be Wild should be required reading for anyone who has or plans to have a child.”
James J. Hudziak, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, Pediatrics and Communication Sciences, University of Vermont College of Medicine and Medical Center

Born to Be Wild is an insightful exploration of the adolescent mind. Shatkin's clinical insights, backed by emerging scientific data and ideas, will be valuable for parents and teachers, and maybe even the adolescents in their lives.”
—Joseph LeDoux, author of Anxious

“Dr. Shatkin shares with us the stalagmites and the stalactites of the young human brain and body and casts this untamable dragon onto a light table, ties it down, and helps us to see right through ourselves and smack into the 'ever forming' brain of youth...this book tempts us to feel that we can save our children's lives…so let’s do that. Read this book.”
—Elizabeth Streb, Director/Choreographer

“Wise, thought provoking and full of heart, Born to be Wild gives us an essential road map for understanding adolescent behavior, priming us, as parents, teachers, and role models, how to guide and keep our children safe as they navigate the demanding terrain of adolescence.”
—Mark Wolynn, author of It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

"Face facts, says Dr. Jess Shatkin: Kids take risks even though they know it is risky! They do so because their brains are wired that way--an evolutionary mandate, as he so wonderfully describes. But the battle with youth is not lost if you know what to do and say. This smart, engaging book by a great child psychiatrist and educator will show you how.”
—Lloyd I. Sederer, MD, Chief Medical Officer, New York State Office of Mental Health

“In his new book, Shatkin has expertly met three challenging and important goals: He has presented an engaging and accessible overview of adolescent psychology, he has given us a fascinating glimpse into adolescent thinking about risk, and he has distilled a series of excellent and practical suggestions for parents, schools and policy makers for how to keep our teens healthy and safe. This is a highly valuable contribution.”
—Victor Schwartz, MD, Chief Medical Officer, The Jed Foundation

“Shatkin’s readable style, complete research, and useful case studies all combine cohesively to help parents sort out what’s normal, what’s a stage, and what’s cause for greater concern...Recommended.”
Library Journal