Parents, educators and other community members nearly filled the Wilton High School Clune Center the evening of March 5 to hear the results of Dr. Suniya Luthar\u2019s study on Wilton students and the challenges they face. They learned that students believe their parents and educators are often at cross-purposes. Adult behavior on local Facebook pages isn\u2019t helping either. Luthar \u2014 a nationally acclaimed researcher, foundation professor of psychology at Arizona State University, professor emerita of Columbia University\u2019s Teachers College, and mother of two grown children \u2014 has been studying pressures and challenges faced by youth in high-achieving schools, and often affluent communities, for more than two decades. In October 2016, Luthar visited Wilton and shared an overview of her research on Westport students, which showed they had elevated levels of depression and substance abuse that most people associate with poverty. Shortly after her visit, Wilton Youth Council\u2019s vice president, Genevieve Eason, said, \u201cWe began to explore the possibility of her returning to survey our student body \u2014\u00a0we wanted to hear directly from our kids.\u201d This past November, more than 1,200 Wilton High School students, across all four grades, participated in an extensive survey conducted by Luthar, which examined adjustment outcomes like depression, anxiety and physical symptoms, rule-breaking and aggression, alcohol and drug use, as well as positive attributes like empathy, compassion and altruism. Adjustment patterns As at all high-achieving schools she has studied, Luthar said, rates of substance use among Wilton teens are \u201celevated compared to national norms.\u201d \u201cNot so much marijuana, but certainly alcohol and drinking to intoxication,\u201d said Luthar, whose study also revealed \u201ctroubling elevations\u201d in rates of clinically significant symptoms among Wilton students. Luthar found \u201canxious-depressed\u201d to be the most pronounced internalized symptom among Wilton students and that: Almost 30% of Wilton students have \u201cabove average\u201d levels of internalizing symptoms, compared to the 7% national norm. Almost 20% have \u201cmuch above average\u201d levels, compared to the 2% national norm. \u201cI don\u2019t think I\u2019ve spent so much time on a single presentation for any school as I have done for this one,\u201d said Luthar, \u201cand the reason is because I was so alarmed by this.\u201d Having lived in Westchester County before, Luthar said, she knows \u201cthe culture\u201d in this area. \u201cWhen you\u2019re hearing all these comparisons, you can think about them relative to the other schools, but maybe the more important thing to think about is [relativity] to national norms\u00a0\u2014 and that is what\u2019s worrisome to me.\u201d According to Luthar, levels of externalizing symptoms among Wilton teens are also elevated, but to a lesser extent. \u201cThere is some sense of uneasiness in the community \u2014 there\u2019s something that is not quite right,\u201d she said. \u201cMaybe it\u2019s about substance use; maybe it\u2019s about internalized depression and anxiety.\u201d Luthar said her job is to help the community \u201cunderstand the magnitude of the problem\u201d so it can figure out what needs to be done. Parent containment When asked about the seriousness of repercussions if their parents were to discover them exhibiting rule-breaking behaviors, Wilton teens reported perceiving less serious reactions from their parents when it comes to drug use than to things like rudeness and delinquency. Luthar said this is something she sees \u201cagain and again \u2014 especially in the Northeast.\u201d \u201cThese are things we sometimes want to say, \u2018Maybe they\u2019ll outgrow it,\u2019\u201d she said, \u201cbut drug and alcohol use often matter.\u201d Parent containment is \u201ccritical to examine\u201d because \u201csome parents in high-achieving contexts tend to \u2018bail out\u2019 their children when facing discipline,\u201d said Luthar, adding that it\u2019s \u201cvery important\u201d for parents to be \u201cvigilant.\u201d She also said that children\u2019s perceptions of their parents\u2019 laxness when it comes to drug use correlates with levels of substance abuse, and parent containment is associated with diagnoses of addiction at age 28. Parents and school Luthar said her study revealed that Wilton students, like their parents and teachers, are \u201cnot on the same page\u201d \u2014 that \u201ctheir parents are on one side and their school and teachers are on the other \u2014 and [they\u2019re] caught in the middle.\u201d Of all she\u2019s studied, Luthar said, \u201cthis is the one thing that has come up that has taken me by surprise.\u201d \u201cThis is a message that I don\u2019t often see,\u201d she said, \u201cbut it is a message that I\u2019m seeing here.\u201d Parent and community involvement is about schools welcoming families and adults also supporting the schools, she said, and parents and schools each have unique associations with student adjustments \u2014 \u201cit\u2019s not one or the other.\u201d \u201cWhen kids feel like their parents and teachers are not on the same team,\u201d said Luthar, \u201cthat\u2019s an issue.\u201d She encouraged the Wilton community to \u201cthink about and talk to each other about how can the parents and the administrators and teachers perhaps work\u00a0\u2014 with kindness and respect \u2014\u00a0with each other.\u201d Adult role models \u201cAll of what we do as grownups matters to our kids,\u201d said Luthar, who emphasized the importance of adults being good role models. Echoing that sentiment, Wilton Youth Council President Vanessa Elias asked parents to think about \u201cwhat we\u2019re role-modeling on Facebook.\u201d To those who wonder how young people know about the way adults in the community treat one another, Elias said, the answer is social media. \u201cThey\u2019re on 412 and the other Facebook pages,\u201d she said, \u201cand that\u2019s the easiest place for all of us to start \u2014\u00a0to not engage and not to post and call names.\u201d Luthar said it was \u201cthe fourth or fifth time\u201d she had heard about the Wilton 412 and Wilton 411 Facebook groups. \u201cI have no idea what they are, but I know they\u2019re not good,\u201d she said. \u201cThe kids have access to it and they\u2019re seeing that there is blaming and name-calling and adults putting each other down. I have one suggestion: Let\u2019s stop doing this. \u2026 Find a way to come together.\u201d To learn more about Luthar and her research, visit suniyaluthar.org.