Part one of a mini series exploring how to invite Christian youth into an examination of the disturbing trend of teen bullying and its consequences.
Perhaps the hardest part of this conversation about bullying is knowing where to begin or what to say. For the most part, our youth are raised in a culture that values the sense of the individual over the community. Individualism encourages us to be self-sufficient and stoic. Values such as these are, without a doubt, important and significant. But the encouragement of individualism can prevent us from sharing what we really feel, experience, know, yearn for, or desire. We are not trained to embrace the deepest parts of who we really are.
When beginning to talk with youth about suicide, self-identity, depression, and reaching out to others, I believe we need to start with some of the very basics. One way to do this is to spend an evening with your youth reflecting on how we address our emotions, our happiness, our sexuality, our successes, our relationships, our personal identities, and our sense of self.
I've found clips from "This Emotional Life" to be very helpful in starting these discussions. Youth are more likely to engage in conversation once they have watched a video (remember that a number of our youth learn most effectively through mass media) that begins to articulate these thoughts and ideas.
After watching clips from this video, encourage your youth to reflect on the clip they just viewed. Don't be afraid of silence, eventually someone will start talking. And be creative with how you get your youth to respond. You might try some of these activities.
This is just a start for how to dive into the deeper issues. In the next several posts, we'll begin to look at the biblical response to suicide, to bullies, and to who we are as children of God.