First, we consider the story of Steubenville.
Second, we consider our studentsâ€™ stories.
We move then to communicating with our students based on an assumption. An assumption, that they are not hearing what they need/should be hearing about healthy and unhealthy relationships in their homes or even in their schools. While some of our students may be hearing the basics, we must move to a place of understanding that those who arenâ€™t hearing it need us as the church to be the ones talking about these issues.
What I mean is that we have to start with the basics because students are more inundated with violence and sexually aggressive behavior than they are with appropriate behavior (kindness).
In fact, a study from the APA (American Psychology Association) said that 93% of the scenes on TV that include teen girls participating in sexually active behavior are considered â€œunhealthy.â€Â Unhealthy indicates that some of the behavior is abusive or aggressive towards girls. Taking advantage of a weaker person is the norm in our societies and maybe on some level even socially accepted.
Kindness is counter-cultural to this world of violence and abuse. Kindness is a strange word. On some level it sounds so weak and seems to lack power. But kindness is powerful and it is strong in this hurting and broken world.
So, when it comes to the basics. Here are a few things as a starter that students should be hearing from us:
- Strength equals responsibility not power. Strength may come from physical power, social position or just from being a male. This strength doesnâ€™t give you power over others but it gives you responsibility to treat others with kindness. Culturally strength has meant dominanceâ€¦dominance can lead to abuse of power. This is not the way of a follower of Christ.
- Taking advantage of someone weaker is wrong. Plain and simpleâ€¦Strength does not give you permission to keep others down or to hurt others who are weak.
- Love never hurts. Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 girls will find themselves in an abusive relationship whether it is verbally or physically. We must communicate that love never hurts! Young men need to hear it and young women need to hear it. It sounds like a simple ideaâ€¦that everyone should know/understand but clearly that is not true based on the stats. If students arenâ€™t seeing healthy relationships modeled at home than this truth may be much more essential than we think. Unfortunately, we should not assume abusive relationships arenâ€™t happening in the families in our churches.
- No one deserves to be harmed. There is a destructive conversation happening when we hear phrases like â€œshe was asking for itâ€ or â€œher clothes were leading him onâ€ as a reason that would â€œjustifyâ€ abusive behavior. Hurting people with words or by our actions is NEVER acceptable. I donâ€™t care what a person says or wearsâ€¦they NEVER deserve to be harmed by another person.
- Always choose kindness. Instead of a culture of violence, letâ€™s lead a generation that chooses kindness. Students who see the weak and the broken as people in need of kindnessâ€¦and what better place should they get it from than those in our churches.
Itâ€™s not the total conversation but it is a good beginning. When was the last time you talked with your students about kindness? Or about healthy/unhealthy relationships? Have you ever talked about abuse? What other things do our students need to hear from us?
Join the conversation!