After talking to Wilton parents a little more than a year ago about the challenges faced by children in affluent communities, nationally recognized researcher Dr. Suniya Luthar is coming back to present her findings about Wilton students.

That talk will be held on Monday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at Wilton High School’s Clune Center (snow date:  March 6 at 10:45 a.m.). The program is sponsored by the Wilton Public Schools, Wilton Youth Council, Wilton Youth Services, and the Wilton High School PTSA.

Luthar’s previous talk in October 2016, in which she presented an overview of her research, was made to a standing-room-only audience of parents and concerned community members in the Wilton High School Little Theater.

“Dr. Luthar’s message about the pressures facing teens in communities like ours resonated with the audience,” says Genevieve Eason, Wilton Youth Council’s vice president. “Immediately we had a lot of feedback from parents who wondered if Dr. Luthar would survey our students, so that we could learn more about their experience of growing up here.”

According to Eason, the Wilton High School administration and Dr. Kevin Smith responded to that feedback with support.

“The district wants to understand how to best support the health and well-being of our students, so they worked closely with us to make the survey possible,” Eason says. In November 2017, over 1,200 WHS students participated in the survey.

Luthar will share her findings regarding Wilton students’ life experiences in areas such as personal values, empathy and kindness; depression and anxiety; substance use; and relationships with family and friends. Dr. Luthar will put those results into the context of national norms to help us understand our students’ current level of health and well-being.

“Many of us–the staff at the Wilton Public Schools, the social workers at Wilton Youth Services, and those of us who provide programs for students and parents through Wilton Youth Council and the PTSA–are looking forward to hearing the results of the survey. This was an opportunity for our high school students to give us some insight into what their lives are like. This will help us to identify what we are doing well, and where we can do a better job of supporting our kids’ emotional wellness,” says Eason.

Suniya Luthar, Ph.D., is a Foundation Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and Professor Emerita of Columbia University’s Teachers College. She is a rare scientist primarily investigating the challenges belonging to children of highly educated, professionally skilled parents. While she was on the faculty at Yale University, Dr. Luthar conducted a groundbreaking study of students in Westport, CT that found affluent teenagers have the elevated levels of anxiety, depression and substance use that most people associate with poverty. Over the last two decades this area has become one of her specialties, and she is widely recognized as an expert on the topic. Her work is frequently referenced in articles in major newspapers and in recent bestsellers by both Dr. Madeline Levine and Paul Tough.

This is a unique opportunity to hear her speak in Wilton. Admission is free. Online registration is recommended. The program will begin promptly 7 p.m., so organizers suggest allowing extra time for parking. In case of snow, the program will be rescheduled to 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6.

This presentation is free and open to the public. Parents, professionals, school staff and other interested adults are welcome.  The program is appropriate for parents with children of all ages.

Please email Genevieve Eason with questions.