I love checking in on Radical Parenting. This is a great website with real talk from a mainstream network determined to love kids well. As a youth leader you will want to think about this and absorb the information so that you can help students with some of these seen and unseen problem areas. These areas are not the only ones, but they represent the problems that are common place to teens regardless of social or economic backgrounds. They are also not in order of intensity. This is just a list. I have added insight on each. Your free to add more to the conversation in the comments.
- Smoking – It makes them feel older and more mature. It suppresses feelings, hunger, and relaxes stressed out teens. Outside of that, kids crave attention and a lit cigarette gives some leverage for that.
- Bullying – No, it’s not about lunch money anymore. Teens suffer deep emotional harm and wounding from labels, rumors, and extremely aggressive verbal abuse everyday at their school and even from friends.
- Shoplifting – The term seems juvenile and maybe even not a “real” problem but it is. Teens, who steal, do so for acceptance and even out of the overflow of seasons of poverty. They don’t like themselves when they do it and are forced to live with the burden and eventual consequences.
- Depression – Abandonment, stress, and the compartmentalized life is hard to endure. The more difficult life gets the more teens would rather disengage. Losing motivation, hope, and relationships is the secret form of death.
- Pregnancy – Although the spotlight on teen moms has increased from media and our insatiable appetite for drama the real problem here is the double edged sword of girls who succumb to the advances of their friends and find themselves being willing to engage extreme risk and possible life altering decisions for the affection, attention, and time of someone rather than being alone. Pregnancy is their emotional russian roulette.
- Obesity – A topic that is the least favorite to talk about but the one for which many adults and teens are suffering in. Teens, like adults, often eat to mask feelings, escape real world problems, or suppress unchecked emotions. The depth of the effect is a life of inward self-hate and emotional unrest.