The Source for Youth Ministry

"Excuse Me; May I Have Your Attention?"
How Smartphones Are Stealing Kids' Focus from Everyone Around Them
David R. Smith

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Umm…Britney could you put your iPhone away? As I was saying, Columbus had three ships with him, the Niña, the Pinta, and the – Dylan! For the last time, turn your ringer off!!!”

Thanks to smartphones, lots of teachers...
JONATHAN'S BLOG: voices unheard
An overweight boy called “lard-ass” daily.

A girl physically assaulted because she liked the wrong guy.

A crowd of kids taunting a kid with a prominent red birthmark on his face, “Hey Kool-Aid!”

An overweight girl named Carla heartlessly labeled Cowla, trying to simply navigate around campus without being mooed at day after day.

These are just some of the voices I’ve been hearing… and the common denominator I keep finding:

“No one did anything.”

I don’t want to be an alarmist, and I definitely don’t want to insinuate that parents, teachers and schools don’t care. Not true. As you read this today I'm actually at an on-campus anti-bullying program run by Campus Life (think school-assembly on steroids with small groups where kids actually open up). The fact is countless adults care deeply about this—I’ve interviewed many of them. But sadly, many of these kids’ voices are being drowned out in the crowd. And far too many adults simply don’t have a clue what’s going on.

Literally every story I’ve heard contains the same element:

“I told the adult on ‘yard duty,’ and they said to just ignore it.”

“I told my parents and they dismissed it.”

“I told the principal, and he called the boys in and warned them. Nothing changed.”

I don’t have any problem believing these stories… because I’ve experienced this all firsthand. So let me ask this: in a world full of caring adults, how is it that we keep missing the cries of hurting kids?

How can we miss crowds of kids at recess jeering “Hey Kool Aid” at a boy with a giant birthmark? How is it that in a high school locker room kids are constantly ridiculed, tormented, slapped on the back of the neck, even hung up by their underwear? Is there some hidden code that a locker room is a ‘no adult’ zone? How can an entire campus know that there is going to be a fight after school—and adults actually warned about it—and yet a kid gets chased by a mob and beat to the ground until literally hospitalized, while campus security toss a football back and forth?

Let me give you just one specific example that happened to the daughter of a friend of mine. Girl likes boy, but boy likes two girls. Boy finally chooses one girl, so she and her friends decide to humiliate and ostracize the other girl just to make a point, ganging up against her between classes, knocking her books out of her hands, even shoving her to the ground. One time this shunned girl was pushed and threatened so she fled to a nearby bathroom where she hid in a stall and texted her mom: “Mom, please come get me. I’m scared.” Her mom rushed to school and told the front office what happened. “My daughter was just threatened by a group of girls and is now hiding in the bathroom terrified. She just texted me from a stall.”

The response from the front office?

“She’s not supposed to be texting at school.”

These are the stories I keep hearing, and I know that some schools are not like this. But why does this keep happening? And did you notice I didn’t even mention one story of cyber bullying? (Something I devoted an entire chapter to in my previous book.) The online world has only magnified the problem.

So what can schools, teachers and parents do to prevent this kind of cruelty?

What is the cure?

I want your stories. Do you have stories of kids being bullied, teased or mocked? What actions do you see adults taking? What’s working… what’s not working?

I’d love to include your stories in the book I’m writing on this subject. Email me!

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Outreach Resource of the Week RSS Feed
Temporary vs. Eternal

If you want a great resource to get your students thinking about how to live their next year, this resource from our OUTREACH AGENDAS page gets them focused on what’s eternal, not temporal.


Before Students Arrive 
Set up your room like an airplane - rows of seats with an isle down the middle. Use whatever resources you have - a bus would be great, but a room with a bunch of chairs will work just as good. Finally, place the pens, papers, and note cards on each seat of the “plane.” 

Spiritual Growth Resource of the Week RSS Feed
Extreme Forgiveness
When we choose to forgive those who have wronged us, our lives – and theirs – can be changed. Use this powerful resource from our SPIRITUAL GROWTH AGENDAS page to help your students.  

Discussion Starter: The Power of Forgiveness 
In February of 1993, Mary Johnson’s only child, her 20 year old son, was shot to death by a 16 year old kid named Oshea Israel. Israel spent 17 years in prison for murder, and during that long, hard time, Ms. Johnson visited Israel in prison and eventually forgave him for killing her son. When he was released in