Children’s & youth work links

Links from the world of children’s and youth ministry:

How do we help young people to pray?: Joel Goodlet has written a great blog on the need to stop sending out the invitation to ‘try prayer’ and find a way instead to encourage our young people to devote themselves to prayer.

Hugh Hefner Wrecked My Life. . . Sort Of. . .: Walt Mueller blogs on the cultural impact that Hugh Hefner had.

If you have not read the Nashville Statement, please don’t: Steve Holmes nails it, on how the Nashville Statement is framed to try to make us take sides, and the loudest responses have been similarly framed.

The Annual Bullying Survey 2017: the fifth and largest edition of our yearly benchmark of bullying in the United Kingdom. Ditch the Label, the anti-bullying charity, surveyed over 10,000 young people aged 12-20 in partnership with schools and colleges from across the country.

Regular Energy Drink Use by Young Adults May Hike Risk of Substance Abuse: A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers suggests young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks may be at risk for future substance use.

Tens of thousands of UK teenagers neglected at home, report says

Survey of year 10 pupils suggests one in seven experience some form of neglect, risking their physical and emotional health.

teenage-boys

A survey commissioned by the Children’s Society found that one in seven 14- and 15-year-olds had experienced at least one form of neglectful parenting, the equivalent of three to four students in every year 10 classroom.

Emotional and supervisory neglect were the joint most common forms reported by year 10 pupils and the former was associated with teenagers being more likely to engage in risky behaviour.

Those who said they had experienced emotional neglect were more than twice as likely than their peers to have got drunk recently, nearly three times as likely to have smoked and more than twice as likely to have skipped lessons.

Neglected teenagers were also significantly more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives, pessimistic about their futures and lacking confidence in their abilities. Children who reported frequent support from parents were more likely to have higher levels of wellbeing. Young people who were materially deprived were more likely to be neglected than their peers.

The Children’s Society said that the problems stem partly from an incorrect perception that teenagers needed less care and support than younger children. It wanted to see better support and advice for parents bringing up adolescents.

The Children’s Society chief executive, Matthew Reed, said:

“No child should be left feeling that no one cares about them. Teenagers are often seen as more resilient than younger children. But of course they still need care from their parents to meet their needs, support their education and keep them safe.

“Our research makes clear the central role of parental care and emotional support to the wellbeing of young people. With little dedicated advice readily available for parents of teenagers, we need to provide more support to parents bringing up teenagers, not to blame them. The government has a massive role to play in making sure the needs of teenagers, and their parents, are never forgotten. Society must not give up on teens.”

Recommendations in the report, published on Tuesday, include parenting classes for families with adolescent children, training on understanding adolescent neglect for frontline education, health and youth justice workers and more work to enable young people to recognise neglectful situations and know what help is available.

The University of York polled a representative sample of about 2,000 young people aged 12 to 15 in 72 schools for the report, asking them about their experiences of being cared for by their parents.

Living with a teenage stranger

If you aren’t a parent of teenagers but work with teenagers take 5 minutes to read this column on living with a teenage stranger to understand the challenges parents face:

I am mother to a teenager – a role I was naively looking forward to because it was never going to be too hard. After all I know my child; she won’t turn into someone who is uncommunicative and secretive.

Hahahahahahaha – I laugh at myself now.

At times, living with a teenager is like starting all over again with a stranger, not someone I have seen almost every day since she was born.

On rare days, she talks, she interacts, she discusses, she is warm and she wants to be in our company and she is bloody lovely.

On other days it is like living with someone who chucks verbal abuse out day and night. In a look, I can be crushed. And the first time she uttered the words “I fucking hate you”, I swear I felt my heart shatter. If anyone else spoke to me like that I would be moving out.

But I’m getting stronger. I am adjusting to life with a hormonal young woman who is trying to figure out herself, people and the world.

UK teenagers’ hopes and fears

Teenagers - Generation K

A brilliant article in The Guardian by five teenagers on the challenges they face, and the good parts of belonging to ‘Generation K’:

Jodie wrote:

Growing up through the financial crisis, I do worry about whether I’ll have a job or a house when I’m 25, or be able to have a family, but I also feel I’m a bit too young to think about it at the moment. But other things worry me. I’m too scared to go abroad – watching the news and seeing stuff like terrorism and the rise of Isis, it does scare me.

I don’t think politicians know what our lives are like, or how the changes they make affect young people in the real world. Young people are unfairly treated by lots of policies – for instance, you’re only allowed working tax credits from the age of 25, even though lots of young people earn very little. There are young people who work but really get nothing for working.

Isaac wrote:

There is definitely pressure at school. I’ve got mock exams starting soon, and school piles on the pressure to do well. That makes you feel nervous. Things like university fees worry me a lot because I don’t know whether I will be able to afford to go, even though I really want to.

It’s a fascinating insight into the life of teenagers.

Teenagers do the most amazing things!

TED Talk Jack Andraka

Teenagers do the most amazing things!

In this TED Talk Jack Andraka talks about how he developed a promising early detection test for pancreatic cancer that’s super cheap, effective and non-invasive — all before his 16th birthday – something none of the pharmaceutical companies had managed to develop.

[youtube id=”g-ycQufrgK4″ width=”580″ height=”337″]

Ofcom’s Children’s Media Use and Attitudes Report 2015

The 10th Ofcom report on ‘Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report‘ has just been published.

This report examines children’s media literacy. It provides detailed evidence on media use, attitudes and understanding among children and young people aged 5-15, as well as detailed information about the media access and use of young children aged 3-4.

The report also includes findings relating to parents’ views about their children’s media use, and the ways that parents seek – or decide not – to monitor or limit use of different types of media.

Summary of key themes

This year’s report shows that:

  • In 2005 levels of take-up of key media among children were higher than we might recollect, and not dissimilar to those of today. However, the experience of using these devices has been transformed, leading to a much richer and more expansive online experience than was the case in 2005.
  • Over the last few years, tablets are increasingly being used as a default entertainment screen, particularly among younger children. This is set alongside a small but important decrease in the numbers watching TV via a TV set.
  • The content children are consuming is increasingly curated by digital intermediaries, including providers like YouTube and Google. As well as attractive sources of content, rivalling traditional broadcasters, they are also seen by some children as legitimating brands, helping to vouchsafe the veracity or trustworthiness of content accessed through their sites.
  • The move towards smaller screens makes supervision more difficult for parents, and the proliferation of devices increases the need for parents to keep up to date with technology. For example, while over half of parents use any of the technical tools we ask about to manage their children’s online access and use, and around a quarter use ISP network-level filters, less than one in five parents whose child uses a smartphone or tablet use any of the tools for restricting app installation or use that we asked about.
  • The wider range of sources of content, set alongside the increased exposure to advertising, the use of services like social networking and the relatively low levels of critical understanding raises challenges for how children keep their personal information safe, understand the implications of sharing personal information and content and navigate the increasingly complex online environment in a way which allows them to reap the benefits and minimise the risks.

Pages 4-12 contain the Executive Summary with key themes and findings – if you don’t have long, do take the time to read these few pages.  Section 3 also contains some fascinating charts on the difference in usage by children between 2005 and 2015.

 

Millennials Selfies: young adults will take more than 25,000 selfies in their lifetime!

Selfies

Millennials average 9 selfies per week, spending an average of seven minutes perfecting each one before posting. That’s adds up to about 54 hours per year spent on taking & posting selfies according to this report in the International Business Times:

A recent survey from Luster Premium White, a teeth whitening brand based in Boston, calculated that the average millennial could take up to about 25,700 selfies in his or her lifetime. Ninety-five percent of young adults admitted to having taken at least one such picture of themselves.

Millennials, usually defined as people between the ages of 18 and 34, have proven particularly drawn to selfies. More than half of young adults have posted a selfie to a social media website, compared to 24 percent of Generation X-ers and 9 percent of Baby Boomers, Pew Research Center discovered last March.

Respondents to the Luster survey said they took an average of nine selfies a week and put the average amount of time needed at seven minutes. That adds up to about 54 hours a year of taking selfies, according to the survey, which included responses from 1,000 young adults.

That may sound shocking, but high numbers like those aren’t unheard of. The average 16- to 25-year-old woman spent 16 minutes taking an average of three selfies per day, or five hours a week, according to Beauty site FeelUnique, which commissioned a study earlier this year, Refinery29 reported.

Despite these figures, only 10 percent of respondents told Luster they were addicted to taking selfies.

Heartbreaking – suicide is now the biggest killer of teenage girls

Suicide has become the leading killer of teenage girls, worldwide. Take a moment to read this article to find out why:

Female suicide stats

Towards the end of last year, a shocking statistic appeared deep in the pages of a World Health Organisation report. It was this: suicide has become the leading killer of teenage girls, worldwide. More girls aged between 15 and 19 die from self-harm than from road accidents, diseases or complications of pregnancy.

For years, child-bearing was thought to cause the most deaths in this age group. But at some point in the last decade or so – statistics were last collected on this scale in 2000 – suicide took over. And, according to the WHO’s revised data for 2000, it had already just inched its way ahead of maternal mortality at the turn of the millennium.

“I’m not quite sure why we haven’t realised this before,” says Suzanne Petroni, a senior director at ICRW. “Maternal mortality has come down so much, which is fantastic,” she says.

That’s a major factor behind the fall in the overall death rate for 15-19 year old girls from 137.4 deaths per 100,000 girls in 2000 to 112.6 today. It’s an amazing achievement.

And it has allowed the spotlight to fall, finally, on what has actually been the biggest killer all along: suicide.

The report looks at six global regions. In Europe, it is the number one killer of teenage girls. In Africa, it’s not even in the top five, “because maternal deaths and HIV are so high,” says Petroni.

But in every region of the world, other than Africa, suicide is one of the top three causes of death for 15 to 19 year old girls. (For boys, the leading killer globally is road injury).

It’s particularly shocking given that suicide is notoriously underreported.

“We don’t really know the extent of the problem,” says Roseanne Pearce, a Senior Supervisor at Childline in the UK. “Because the coroner often won’t record it as suicide. Sometimes that’s at the family’s request, and sometimes it’s simply to protect the family’s feelings.”

In countries where stigma is particularly high, suicides are even less likely to be recorded than they are in the UK. And the poorest countries in the WHO’s report have very patchy data on births and deaths at all, let alone reliable detail on what caused those deaths.

 

Impulsive teenagers more prone to heavy drinking

drinking-drunk

An interesting article on research from the University of Liverpool that has shown that young people who show more impulsive tendencies are more prone to drinking heavily at an early age:

The research suggests that targeting personality traits, such as impulsivity, could potentially be a successful intervention in preventing adolescent drinking from developing into problems with alcohol in later life.

Studies in the UK show that approximately 24% of 12 year olds have reported at least one episode of alcohol consumption, rising to 77% of 15 year olds.

Previous research has suggested that impulsive behaviour is linked with adolescent drinking, but it is unclear whether young people who are impulsive tend to drink more, or whether drinking whilst the brain is still developing is particularly harmful and can lead to the progression of impulsive behaviours.

The team used computer tests that measured inhibitory control, the ability to delay gratification, and risk-taking. More than 280 young people who were aged 12 or 13 at the beginning of the study took part in the study. The participants repeated the computer tests every six months over the two years of the study.

Results showed that those participants who were more impulsive in the tests went on to drink more heavily or have problems with alcohol at a later time. The study did not, however, show that alcohol consumption led to increased impulsive behaviour on the computer tests. This suggests that there is a link between impulsivity and adolescent drinking, but that alcohol may not necessarily lead to increased impulsive behaviour in the short-term.

Professor Matt Field, from the University’s Institute of Psychology Health and Society, explains: “Young people in the UK are starting to drink alcohol at a younger age than in the past, and much of this reflects broad social trends. There are, however, significant differences in the age at which teenagers start to experiment with alcohol and the age at which they start drinking regularly.”

“It is important to identify the psychological characteristics of adolescents who are likely to go on to drink heavily, because this can help us target alcohol prevention more effectively. In addition, we need to identify the consequences of heavy drinking during adolescence for health in general, and brain development in particular.”

“Our results show that more impulsive individuals are more likely to start drinking heavily in the future compared to less impulsive individuals. The next steps are to take these results and apply them to prevention interventions that are tailored to individual characteristics, such as impulsivity.”

“We also need to conduct studies where we follow-up young people for longer than the two years that we did in the present study. This will help us to understand whether heavy drinking over a longer period during adolescence has an impact on impulsive behaviour.”

75% of homeless youth use Facebook and Twitter

Homeless Person

A recent study found that 75% of homeless young people use social networks to stay connected to others – a number comparable to that of university and college students.

The study, led by the University of Alabama’s Rosanna Guadagno, surveyed 237 college and 65 homeless young people that were an average of 19 years old.  A vast majority of both groups reported using social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook for at least one hour each day.

Over 90 percent of college students reported using social media programs for at least one hour every day.

Guadagno makes the argument that a “digital divide” in Internet access should be re-thought:

“To the extent that our findings show a ‘digital divide’ between undergraduates at a four-year university and age-matched participants in a program for homeless young adults, it is mainly in types of Internet use and not access to the Internet, and that divide is relatively minor.  Since it is clear that the proportions of undergraduates and homeless young adults accessing social networking sites are similar, we assert that the term digital divide is not descriptive of the young adult population.”

Another recent study from the University of Dayton found that homeless youth are closely linked to social media in their daily lives. They don’t only use such networks for social contact and equality, but as a means to solve practical daily issues.

Art Jipson, the head of the Dayton study, found that the homeless use social media as a place where all people are treated “equally,” and through a series of interviews, discovered that it can also be a medium to find social services, somewhere to sleep and their next hot meal.

I’d be interested to know if any similar research has occurred in the UK with the ever increasing group of sofa surfer teenagers.