What Are We Doing?

I am disheartened by the state of the world.

When I find myself explaining to 11 year olds why rape is not funny, or why it worries me that they are joking about drunkenness and drug use, I begin to truly wonder what on earth we are doing? How do children think these serious issues are things to laugh about?

Our young people are exposed to so much ‘stuff’ it is unreal. Too much of what they see and hear is adult in nature. They have the world at their fingertips and we have little control over what they are exposed to; but we do have control over what we put out there. So who is putting this out there?

We all have a friend who is a funny drunk and probably many stories of our own or others experience that make drunkenness amusing. We all have our own opinions about drugs and drug culture; what should be legal and what should not? The merits and risks of trying something ‘for the experience’. However surely it can’t be denied that whatever positives or amusement can be derived from these things, there are risks and damage that go along with them. If our children are growing up only believing in the ‘funny’ side of these things then we are putting them at risk of harm.

If a child is exposed to the word ‘rape’, I can think of no possible circumstance in which that child should walk away thinking of it as something funny. Terrifying? Yes. Horrendous? Yes. Criminal? Yes. Funny? No. Flipping. Way. How can anyone think this is funny? There are just no words to describe how atrocious this crime is, to convey how much is stolen from the victims. If we allow our children to think that violent acts such as this are funny then I fear for our future and the harm that will be tolerated or perpetrated.

So seriously, what are we doing?

I feel like there are a million more things to say about this; like I should have some sort of solution or talk more poignantly about how we could protect our children without smothering them. It’s a tough one and there’s definitely a lot to say on the subject (and all the many others that connect to it), but right now I can’t. Because, honestly, it just makes me too sad.

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In Defence of Youth: Quick Activity

I have been working with young people in various paid and voluntary roles for about eight years now, and there are countless issues I’ve been faced with and resources I’ve used. I also know there are countless issues I’m yet to face and resources I don’t even know exist! I always intended to share some of the things I have found useful and inspiring in my work here on Thrive in Chaos, so here is my first youth work related share!

Something that affects too many children and young people (and adults in fact) is bullying. Things are said and done in the dog-eat-dog world of the playground that individuals then carry and live with far longer than anyone might think. Sometimes the term ‘bullying’ can seem to be applied where, as adults, we might think it too harsh. But it’s so important to remember that what might seem like “just a bit of name calling” can be much more to the person on the receiving end. Words hurt. Even if only said once.

So here is a fantastic, and quick, activity for getting children and young people to reflect on bullying behaviour. First shared with me by a colleague it has had a lot of attention already, you may have already seen it. But it is so simple and effective I think it’s worth sharing again and again. Below is an abbreviated version of the original lesson shared on a American talk show, accompanied by a link to the blog on which I found it.

“The teacher gave each student a clean crisp sheet of paper. She then instructed the class to crumble up the piece of paper, toss it around, get angry with it, and stomp on it.
 
After which, she told the students to return to their seats (with their piece of paper), flatten it out on the top of their desks, making it as flat and perfect as they can, and finally, apologize to the paper.
 
When all the students had done their best to iron out the paper and apologize to it, the teacher picked up the paper on the first classmates desk, held it up so the entire class could see it and said:
 
If this piece of paper had been another person, and you had done all those things to him or her, by making them feel less than perfect (through your words or actions), these are the scars you would leave. That person would never be the same, no matter how many times you tell them you are sorry, no matter how many times you try to smooth things out…”

 

Found here, this activity is worth doing yourself as well, to reflect on the impact of our words and actions. After all there are, unfortunately, some people who don’t seem to grow out of bullying. Have a go and let’s make a conscious effort to speak words of good, love and comfort to everyone we meet.

Please feel free to share any other links/resources to combat bullying in the comments.

Organised Chaos

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This is what my desk looked like today. In fact this seems to be what it looks like most days at the moment. I would like to think it is organised chaos.

It’s not.

At the moment I work in a big secondary school, in a pastoral support role, and boy is it hectic. I like to think that I’m good at prioritising and organising myself, but this role has been a whole new challenge. How do you prioritise when everything is a priority? Staying organised is a constant battle when every task seems to roll into another until my brain is a big jumbled mess of half remembered to-do’s. Combine this with the fact that 99% of what comes through my door is negative and that leaves me wanting to scoff a chocolate bar the size of my head by about 8:45am every morning. Maybe 9am on a good day.

It’s tough. Much harder than I ever would have anticipated. It’s challenged me personally as well as professionally, and I’m still working out how I feel about it and where I want this to go.

But for all that it’s challenging and frustrating and sometimes upsetting, I know that what I’m doing is important. Our young people have such huge and varied expectations to deal with and it seems to get tougher all the time. Occasionally I hear comments about young people not knowing how lucky they are, and I get where this comes from, I do. In many respects young people today are privileged. But they are also facing new challenges every day. And I tell you what, I wouldn’t go back to being a teenager if you paid me!

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One of the things I’m hoping to include in my little blogging adventure is sharing some resources for working with young people. If there are any issues/areas you’d particularly like to see resources for, or if you have any suggestions for specific resources leave a comment and I’ll do my best to include them!