Archive for the ‘Teen Life’ Category

Amanda Todd was only one month away from her sixteenth birthday when she took her own life. Bullied to the point where she believed her life no longer had meaning, she succumbed to the insurmountable pain that her life had become and released her grasp on the world that had caused her so much torment.
How did this beautiful, bright and talented young woman cease to believe her life had value?

It all started with a simple mistake made by a naive teenager who just wanted to be loved. Amanda lived in the suburban town of Port Coquitlam, just outside the city of Vancouver, Canada, but her ordeal had begun almost four years earlier and miles away.

At twelve years old, Amanda Todd was a normal outgoing teenager who enjoyed spending time with her friends. During a video chat with several of them, an anonymous user asked Amanda to flash in front of the webcam and, in a moment of teen naivety, she revealed her breasts. She had assumed the person who had made the request was another teen, but as time progressed Amanda realized she was dealing with a much darker force. The anonymous user tried to blackmail her and asked her to put on a “show” for him, and if she refused, he would send the video of her breasts to everyone she knew. Soon the police were knocking on Amanda‘s door with the news that the video of her exposing herself had been distributed over the Internet.

The anonymous user soon turned into a stalker and relentlessly hounded Amanda online, sending the video to all of her Facebook friends. She began to experience depression, anxiety and panic disorder, and turned to drugs and alcohol to escape the mounting pain in her daily life.

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Spring is graduation season for millions of students. What are the aspirations of today’s teenagers as they think about their future? A new research study from the Barna Group examined a representative, nationwide sample of 602 teenagers, asking them to describe what they think their life will be like roughly 10 years from now, when they are young adults.

To help teens respond with a specific time horizon in mind, the survey asked them what they believe their lives will be like when they are 25-years-old.
College and Career
The most common aspirations of teenagers were related to college and their professional pursuits. Finishing a college degree was their top-rated future priority. A majority of teenagers felt certain that they would accomplish this goal by age 25. In all, 93% of teenagers said they would either definitely or probably obtain a college degree by their mid-twenties. In terms of career, 81% of teenagers felt they are likely to have a “great-paying job” by the time they are 25. Displaying their we-want-it-all perspective, 80% of teens also believed they would be serving in a “job where they can make a difference” by that age.
God and Global
Having a connection with God and international travel emerged as second-level priorities. Nearly three-quarters of teenagers felt they would have a close, personal relationship with God (72%) in the next decade or so. About seven out of 10 youths (71%) said they will definitely or probably have traveled to other countries by their mid-twenties.
Family and Church
Marriage and church involvement were on the third tier of aspirations. Most American teenagers expect to be engaged in these traditional institutions (58% and 63%, respectively). However, only a small percentage felt certain about these outcomes in their own lives: 29% of teenagers felt they would definitely be “actively involved in a church or faith community” and just 12% of teenagers felt certain about “being married” by age 25. Teenagers are even less likely to entertain traditional goals regarding parenting. Less than half of teenagers (40%) felt they may have children by age 25 and only one out of 11 (9%) said they would definitely become a parent in their early adult years. Of course, considerations of marriage and parenting are dependent on finding a willing partner; nonetheless, these pursuits are not top priorities for most students.
Fame versus Service
Media are filled with celebrity news and obscure-turned-famous individuals often made stars via reality television. Given the cultural fascination with fame, perhaps it is not surprising that one-quarter of teenagers (26%) said they expect to be “famous or well known” by the time they reach age 25. To their credit, teens are more likely to express the desire to be “regularly serving the poor” (48%) than to be famous, although that priority is less flattering considering that only 7% of teenagers said they would definitely be doing such other-oriented work as a young adult.
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The Barna Group (which includes its research division, the Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that conducts primary research on a wide range of issues and products, produces resources pertaining to cultural change, leadership and spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each new, bi-monthly update on the latest research findings from The Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna website (www.barna.org). Additional research-based resources, both free and at discounted prices, are also available through that website.

Are you new to the neighborhood or just moved to a new school? Have your old friends moved away and you wonder how to make new friends? Just because you are a Christian teen doesn’t mean making friends is any easier. Making a friend means taking a risk and putting yourself out there to be social and friendly. Here are some ways that Christian teens can make themselves available to find people to hang out with:

1. Know Who You Want to Be Friends With
Before you start trying to make friends, think about who you actually want to be your friends. What types of people do you want to associate with? While most Christian teens like to hang out with other Christian teens, it does not mean all your friends have to be Christian. Just remember that you want your friends to share some of your values and morals. You also want your friends to be uplifting and not drag you down into bad habits or behaviors.

2. Get Involved in Activities
The easiest way to make friends is to get involved in activities at school or in your youth group. It allows you to meet people that share your interests. Find some clubs or a local youth group that is active. As you continue to attend the activities you will find yourself drawn to certain people as friends.

3. Introduce Yourself
A lot of Christian teens don’t know how to make the first step in making friends. Sitting in a corner at an event or not saying a word in a club meeting doesn’t draw people to you. This is a hard step to take, and a quick prayer beforehand can help. God is a great provider of courage. It is hard to walk up to a person to introduce yourself. If you are really nervous, make the introduction quick and don’t expect to much. As people begin to know you are around they will start to include you in conversations.

4. Get Some Help
Youth pastors and leaders area great help in making friends. Many youth pastors are willing to meet with you before you join a youth group and can help introduce you to other Christian teens that share your interests. They may also be able to point you toward student ministries that fit your gifts so you can meet people. This may prevent you from having to take that first introductory step yourself, so it takes some of the pressure off.

5. Work on Your Conversation Skills
How well do you communicate with people? Try practicing conversation skills before you go to youth group or club meetings. Think of some fun topics to discuss and the different ways you can contribute to a conversation. You may feel silly having a conversation with yourself, but you will grow in your communication skills if you do.

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Kelli Mahoney is an experienced Christian Youth worker and published writer. Kelli has been working with Christian Teens for almost as long as she has been a Christian. She started out at a leader with the Senior High Ministry at Calvary Church in Naperville, Illinois and eventually worked at the Administrator for the NXT, or Senior High Ministry. Kelli also has significant experience working with troubled teens through her work in Juvenile Probation and mental health counseling. Visit her blog here: http://christianteens.about.com/b/

What you can do today to serve the world

  1. Give some clothes away. With the new clothes you got for Christmas, you probably have a lot of stuff you won’t be wearing anymore. And chances are, you’ve got clothes you haven’t worn for a very long time. So, take a half hour to go through your closet and dresser, grab those old clothes, and take them to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or other places that collect second-hand clothing.
  2. Volunteer at a local pet shelter/ humane society, arboretum, nursing home, zoo, or hospital.
  3. Help organize a “Compassion Sunday.” Compassion International links children in need with sponsors who support them prayerfully and financially. One way people find out about this organization’s good work is through its “Compassion Sunday” program. Read all about this program at compassion.com/share/compassionsunday/default.htm. Then talk to your youth leader about hosting a Compassion Sunday to encourage child sponsorship.
  4. Volunteer at a local food bank. Food banks supply food for homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, and after-school programs for needy children. And they’re often in need of volunteers to help out in a variety of ways. One organization that has more than 200 pantries across the nation is America’s Second Harvest. To find out more or to see if this organization has a food bank close to you, go to secondharvest.org.
  5. Run for it. From crisis pregnancy centers to breast cancer research to the humane society, many nonprofit organizations raise money through races or walks. Keep your eyes open for these types of opportunities, and then encourage your friends to join you in running (or walking) to raise money for a good cause.
  6. Go hungry for the world’s starving. Help your youth group pull off a 30 Hour Famine. Find out all about this fund-raising program at famine.org.
  7. Become a youth liaison for a community service organization or club. Find out if service organizations are looking for teens who can encourage other teens to serve the community. Contact the local Rotary, Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, or The Salvation Army, or talk to the head of your church’s community outreach ministry. Along with representing fellow teens, you can also help organize events that may interest teens and get them involved.
  8. Test your vocabulary and help feed the hungry. For every right answer you give to increasingly difficult word questions at freerice.com, the UN World Food Program donates 20 grains of rice to the hungry. You can also spread the word by grabbing banners to link to the site.
  9. Join a good cause. Is there a social issue you’re passionate about? Something you believe is worth fighting for? Then do something. You can write letters to Congress to try and influence laws—and lots of organizations help you do this through their websites. If you’re interested in ending AIDS and world poverty, for example, go to worldvision.org (click on the “get involved” link) or one.org (click on the “take action” link). You can also write letters through www.house.gov (click on “write your representative”) and www.senate.gov (click on “senators” to find your senators’ contact information).
  10. Do big things. Support other teens who are out to change the world like Kendall Ciesemier (kidscaring4kids.com) and Zach Hunter (myspace.com/lc2lc), or follow their example to make a difference in your own way.
  11. Do small things. Wash the dishes without being told. Help your little brother with his homework. Shovel snow or rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. Babysit your youth pastor’s kids for free. After all, reaching out to the world should begin right where you live.

On Becoming a Teen

Posted: February 15, 2010 in Teen Life
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The teenage years have been described as a confusing, out-of-whack time in a teenager’s life. Some have likened it to the experience of riding on a roller-coaster: ups and downs, round and round, twists and turns, all in rapid succession.

Someone once said that a teenager is a “pre-person.” I admit, it can be a confusing time because you want to make your own decisions and do things your own way. Even though you may desire that feeling of independence, deep down you still desire the leadership and guidance of your parents or of someone in authority. You often wish your younger siblings would give you time to yourself, but deep down you enjoy being around them because they remind you of the care-free life of a child. You have one foot over the fence in the adult world, but you still have your other foot firmly planted on the other side.

I gave my life to Jesus Christ at sixteen years of age and made the decision to obey Him during those seemingly confusing years. I have not regretted that decision. He has guided me every step of the way, and after over twenty years of serving Him, I have no desire to let go and live life any other way. Have I made some mistakes along the way? Sure. I will admit that I have not been perfect. I have failed Jesus and have been a disappointment to some along the way because of stubbornness and foolish pride on my part. Have things always gone smoothly? No. But in spite of my failures, the Lord has always been there, like the loving Father that He is, waiting with open arms to receive me back. And I promise you He will be there for you also.

SOURCE: To Be A Teen After God’s Heart
Meriqua Whyte