Issues Worth Addressing in Youth Groups

From Aaron Crumbey:

1. Bullying: (Source: stageoflife.com) – Bullying is still prevalent as it has always been, but with social media it has increased. Now students can be bullied 24 hours around the clock. 91% admit to being a victim of bullying.

2. Texting and Social Media: (Source: stageoflife.com) - 57% of teens credit their mobile device with improving their life. They also see it as key to their social life. The average teen spent 31 hours a week online which is like 5 hours a day via a poll done in 2009. I can imagine that number has grown with the infusion of smart phones.

3. Sex: (Source: diseasecontrolcenter) – 47.4% of the students surveyed had sexual intercourse and out of the 47.4% that had sex 39.8% of those students did not use protection. 15.3% admitted to having sex with 4 or more people during their lifetime.

4. Drugs and Alcohol: (Source: SADD) – Statistically 72% of all students will have consumed alcohol by the end of high school. 37% have done so before the eighth grade. 6.7% of teens between the ages of 12-17 have smoked marijuana.

5. Body Image: (source: stageoflife.com) – More than 90% percent of all girls between the ages 15-17 want to change their appearance. Body weight is ranking the highest. 13% admit to having an eating disorder. 7 out of 10 girls believe they don’t measure up or they’re not good enough concerning their looks, performance in school and relationships. 12% of teen boys are using unproven supplements and/or steroids to improve their body image. 44% of teens use skipping meals as a way to lose or control their weight.

6. Depression: Students are dealing with depression. From the severe to the not so severe, at any rate they are dealing with it. The NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) states that 1 in 5 teens have experienced depression.

7. The Future: (Source: stageoflife.com) – 66% of teens are afraid of the future or life after graduation.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • danaames

    It would not hurt a thing if bullying were addressed *before* youth group age. If my experience means anything, 5th-6th grade is the place to start, especially with helping kids to think about why the want to do bullying things, why they think it’s “fun.”

    Additionally, parents can help their kids try to see the benefits of turning the devices off for periods of time. Kids don’t have to have smart phones, texting can be limited, and it’s okay for parents to take the “social blame” for that. We had one TV and one computer in the house when the kids were growing up – no screens in any of the bedrooms. Our kids have not been out of high school for even 10 years yet, so it wasn’t that long ago (the dinosaur age…).

    As for these things and the rest of it, I think it would help to be as “neutral” as possible, presenting statistics and lots of information, rather than just saying “no” or trying to “scare kids straight”. They need to know the real risks, and some positive alternatives. And it also needs to be remembered that the reasoning centers of the brain are under development in the teenage years. Sometimes kids can “think ahead” about consequences, and sometimes they can’t. Love, love, love no matter what.

    My 2 cents.

    Dana

  • DMH

    What!? The evils of participating in Halloween didn’t make the list?

  • Luke Breuer

    How about teaching teens how to love each other in a way that the other can see it as love? I’m thinking of stuff like the The Five Love Languages, but also stuff like the meaning behind 2 Corinthians 5:16—seeing people not cast in your image, but as what God made (Eph 2:10). There is a love which builds someone else up into what they were meant to be, not what you want them to be. This is a hard love, because it means admitting that maybe you weren’t doing that kind of love before, maybe you’ll have to spend time understanding how others really are different from you and That Is OK. Contrast these two approaches:

         (1) imagining what a person should be like
         (2) imagining what a person could be like

    The difference between (1) and (2) is about the size of a universe. Alternatively, between how God works and how fallen man works if he chooses to live by the flesh.

  • mattDavis!

    Interesting, I teach 4th & 5th Grade Sunday school and the only issue on that list that my kids are worried about is the first one, bullying. A lot changes in just a few short years.

  • Janet

    Great comments. I’d say even before 5/6th grade. I’ve been aware of bullying in 4th grade in the elementary school where I teach.

  • elcalebo

    What about consumerism? Arguably the dominant religion in our societies, certainly a major rival to Christianity, and a massive force in teens’ lives. You note that 91% of teens are victims of bullying in some way… I’d guess 99.99% are victims of consumerism in some way.

  • Pat68

    And some of that stuff is happening right within youth groups.


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