Suniya Luthar Ph.D., Foundation Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, spoke to a packed Little Theater audience at Wilton High School three weeks ago. Her groundbreaking studies over decades have found that “affluent teenagers have elevated levels of anxiety and depression that most people associate with children in poverty.”
These privileged kids are actually, in fact, statistically frequently less happy than their counterparts in inner city communities as a result of intense peer pressure, heavy parental expectations (with wounding criticism that attacks self-worth when expectations are not met), and rampant substance abuse (starting in middle school). In fact, Luthar’s work began when she was studying inner-city students and wanted a control group. She turned to Westport students for that purpose, but after doing her data-gathering, discovered that the more serious problems were actually found in affluent communities.