How the Church can reach out to beat the bullies

 Last week, an article on How the Church can reach out to beat the bullies was published by Ruth Gledhill in The Times, reflecting on the great week we’d had doing Monsters Stink Holiday Club, do check it out:

The Times holiday club

How the Church can reach out to beat the bullies

Ruth Gledhill August 20 2013 15:08PM

The Times holiday club 1

Bullying – the sad reality for many

This September hundreds of thousands of children will be returning to school. Sadly, for many of these, bullying is an ongoing reality.

The charity Beatbullying believes that bullying affects one in three young people. Despite the best intentions and many positive interventions put in place by schools up and down the country, bullying is still a real issue facing our children and young people.

And it is not only bullying that can be a problem for today’s children. Children and young people can be scared of lots of different things. These range from a fear of the dark or getting lost, to what the future holds, worry during a time of family instability and more.

Teachers and parents, faced with a myriad of other tasks, are not always able to get alongside the children they work with and care for to help them deal with these different issues. This can leave many children feeling isolated and alone as they struggle to work through their fears.

This summer, our church on the edge of the New Forest has made an attempt to reach out to some of these children. As head of youth ministries, I believed that there was a clear need for a summer activity programme for children that went beyond the usual struggle for a parent to occupy their children during the long summer holidays. In our church community we saw that the church has an opportunity to speak into the difficult situations facing young people. This is because, even with the wealth of resources available, and as hard as schools work at preventing bullying, there sadly will still be times when children are bullied.

As a result, last week, more than 190 children aged between two and eleven years old took part in a week long holiday club at the church.

Using the theme “Monster’s Stink!’”, this holiday club was designed to help children deal with “monsters” they encounter such as bullying, fear and getting lost. Using clips from Monsters Inc. and stories from the Bible, they have been helped to find ways of dealing with and sharing their different emotions and fears.

Each morning ran at a fast pace with many of the usual holiday club ingredients – stories, games, messy challenges, singing, teaching and “flanning” of leaders. Eighty-five trained volunteer adults and young people facilitated workshops such as cake baking, dance, drama and music, video and photography, arts and crafts, and sports all of which gave the young people a sense of pride and “can do”, giving many some much needed self-confidence.

Due to the kind support of St. Andrew’s and all the volunteer staff, the church has been able to run this at a suggested donation of £5 per child meaning many families who haven’t been able to access other holiday projects have had an opportunity here. We at St Andrew’s Church sees this as a way of living out our mission of being “at the heart of the community”.

In the current economic climate we’ve seen council run children’s and youth play schemes decimated by round after round of funding cuts. This leaves more pressure on statutory groups such as schools, health care and others to pick up the pieces, but with each of them also undergoing their own major re-structuring we find that the statutory services do not have the capacity, the resources, or the time to help children and young people deal with the wide range of challenges they face as they grow up in 2013.

This leaves a gap, groups of families, children and young people who are not being supported by the government, education, the NHS and others in the way that a generation ago would have been. This is a gap that the church and other voluntary sector groups are increasingly filling. There are challenges for those organisations as to how they resource their work, but for us as we leads the children’s and youth work at our church, this isn’t an optional add-on but is at the core of what Jesus asks his followers to do.

Too often, the church in the UK has focused on teaching the children and young people it already knows key bible stories, without providing helpful application that helps them understand what difference they can make in their lives. While there is a contextual and historical benefit to knowing the Bible, it comes alive when we understand how we relate to it, and what truth and principles we can learn from it. I would love to see more churches and other groups doing what they can to reach out to children and young people, helping them as they encounter various difficult issues or “monsters” in their lives rather than just sharing another Bible story for the sake of knowledge

Chris Kidd is director of children’s and youth ministries at St Andrew’s, Dibden Purlieu, Southampton. Follow him on twitter @chriskidd.

Monsters Stink Holiday Club on BBC Radio Solent

Holiday Club landscape image copy

Yesterday the Monsters Stink Holiday Club was visited by the lovely Jen Nicholson from BBC Radio Solent.  They made a 4 minute feature of what we’ve been doing this week which was played on the Breakfast Show this morning at 7.28am and will be played again this afternoon in the Drive Time Show.

If you missed it, check it out by clicking here: 

Nike send a poor message to youngsters

After Tiger Woods reclaimed his title as the No. 1 golfer in the world, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, his sponsor Nike (@NikeGolf) tweeted an important message out to all of his young fans along with this image.

Winning takes care of everything


Marketing isn’t just about selling a product, but selling a world-view that fits the brand.  This is why the image is of such concern.

To try and tell young influential people that there is literally nothing that winning and being good at sports won’t take care of is such a poor world-view to market.  I imagine that those hurt in the process of Woods’ affair and poor behaviour probably don’t feel like his return to number 1 in the world has “taken care of everything”.  Let alone issues such as cancer, poverty and injustice, natural disasters etc., which just doesn’t seem to be taken care of by Tiger Woods returning to world number 1.

What do you think – is it simple advertising or trying to publicise a word-view that we can’t sign up to?

Police Use Social Media to Take Down Brooklyn Gang


So often we hear negative stories of social media use, but here’s an example of a positive use of social media: the New York City Police Department and Kings County District Attorney announced last month that they took down 41 members of a Bushwick, Brooklyn, gang and social media helped them do it.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said:

“Once again we have young gang members using social media to boast about murder and mayhem, and once again we have New York City Police officers ‘friending’ them to help end the violence. When young men plot to take their battles from tweets to the streets, the NYPD wants to be there to stop the bloodshed. The attention is paying off.”

Detectives involved in the operation created fake profiles on Facebook and “friended” members of the TBO (True Bosses Only also known as Team Bang Out) Gang, then tracked their actions on the social networking site.  According to the District Attorney, gang members often bragged on Facebook about committing crimes.

The New York Post publishes photo of imminent death

A photographer for The New York Post just happened to be waiting for a train at the 49th Street station platform when 49-year-old Ki Suk Han, a married father of one, was pushed onto the tracks by a mystery assailant. The photographer managed to snap two pictures before the man was run over by the train, sustaining critical injuries before being pronounced dead at Roosevelt Hospital.

One of the photos was on the front page of Tuesday morning’s New York Post, and New Yorkers are wondering why pictures were taken in lieu of offering actual help to Han himself.  Abassi says he was using his camera’s flash to warn the conductor.  The Post is saying Abassi wasn’t strong enough to lift Han up anyway.  But the real question seems to be whether The Post had any business turning the photos into a cover story.

What do you think?