Girls On The Brink
Donna Jackson Nakazawa with Artha Gillis MD, PhD
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM PT
Anyone on the front lines of caring for girls today knows that our daughters, students, and the girl next door are more anxious and more prone to depression and self-harming than ever before. The question that no one has yet been able to credibly answer is Why?
Now we have answers. As award-winning science journalist and writer, Donna Jackson Nakazawa deftly explains in her recent book, Girls on the Brink, new findings reveal that today’s growing girl crisis is a biologically rooted phenomenon: the unchecked bloom of social media and cultural misogyny that mixes badly with puberty, the onset of which is happening earlier. 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. It turns out that 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.
Donna Jackson Nakazawa details the common denominators of such support, shedding new light on the keys to preventing mental health concerns in girls as well as helping those who are already struggling. Drawing on insights from both the latest science and interviews with girls themselves, she 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, (and how to navigate your own difficult feelings, so they don’t sabotage your connection), core ingredients to building a sense of safety and security for your teenage girl at home, and how to foster the foundations of long-term resilience in our girls so they’re ready to face the world.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.
Donna Jackson Nakazawa is an award-winning science journalist, author of seven books, and an internationally-recognized speaker whose work explores the intersection of neurobiology and human emotion. Her latest book, Girls on the Brink: Helping Our Daughters Thrive in an Era of Increased Anxiety, Depression, and Social Media, was named one of the best health books of 2022 by The Washington Post and Mashable. Donna’s other books include, The Angel and the Assassin: The Tiny Brain Cell That Changed the Course of Medicine, named one of the best books of 2020 by Wired magazine, Childhood Disrupted, a finalist for the Books for a Better Life Award, and The Last Best Cure. Her writing has appeared in Wired, The Boston Globe, Stat, The Washington Post and Health Affairs. She has appeared on The Today Show and NPR and is a regular speaker at universities and organizations, including the Child Mind Institute, Harvard Division of Science, UCLA Health, Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, Learning & the Brain, Children’s Hospital Association, and the University of Arizona. Donna is also the creator and founder of the parenting program, Growing Strong Girls, and the narrative writing-to-heal programs, Breaking Free From Trauma, and Your Healing Narrative. You can find her at: donnajacksonnakazawa.com or Instagram: @DonnaJacksonNakazawa Twitter: @DonnaJackNakFacebook: @donnajacksonnakazawaauthor
Artha Gillis MD, PhD will join Ms. Nakazawa in conversation. Dr. Gillis is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry within the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. She directs the child and adolescent inpatient unit at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA. She specializes in evaluating and treating children who have been sexually traumatized and in identifying mental, intellectual/learning, and developmental disabilities in justice-involved youth. Her research focuses on developmental cascades and early intervention after early life adversity.