Category : Teens / Youth

(NPR) April Is A Cruel Month For This Columbine Teacher And Survivor

April 20 is the anniversary of the Columbine massacre. That day in 1999, two Littleton, Colo., high school students killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.

Reed was a teacher at Columbine High School school that day, and still is today. This week, she spoke to NPR from the same classroom she was teaching in before everything happened.

On April 20, 1999, she evacuated with her students as the fire alarm went off, a “Pavlovian” response, she says, to what they thought was a drill or a student playing a prank.

Reed remembers walking out into the sunshine of a beautiful day when kids ran by yelling, “They’ve got guns, they’ve got guns!”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, History, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth, Violence

(CT) Why Christian High Schools Are Filling with Atheist Students from around the Globe

For most of Wheaton Academy’s 165-year history, it was a boarding school. Boarding was ended in the 1980s, then brought back—structured as host families—in 2006.

“China had just started its student visas a year or two before,” said Brenda Vishanoff, vice principal for student services and student learning. The first year, the Christian high school near Chicago had two international students—one from China and one from the Central African Republic. In later years, the number jumped to 8, then 16, then 37.

Soon, Wheaton Academy had more international students than it could take, so it opened a network to place them with other Christian schools. Most of those students—including 45 of the 60 enrolled there this year—have been from China.

The growth reflects a national trend. From 2004 to 2016, the number of international high school students in the United States more than tripled, according to a recent report by the Institute of International Education (IIE). Nearly three-quarters of international students enrolled on an F-1 visa (good until graduation) in 2016; of those, more than half were Chinese (58%).

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Globalization, Teens / Youth, Theology

(Christian Today) Bishop Paul Richardson on IICSA–Senior clergy don’t need MBAs to deal with abuse

Cathedral deans should not need an MBA to enable them to handle cases of abuse or run a cathedral. An MBA does not increase skills in pastoral care or liturgy; it doesn’t improve preaching and teaching or raise awareness of how to relate a cathedral to the local community or improve the quality of music. A cathedral does need staff trained in accountancy whose voices are heard but it is too common in Britain today to think that accountants are the best people to run hospitals or other organisations.

Finally what are we to say about abuse and the theology of forgiveness? Linda Woodhead claims that ‘a faulty doctrine of forgiveness was used by abusers to salve their consciences, by officials to move on without dealing with the problem, and by parishioners to marginalise “unchristian” victims and whistleblowers’.

Quite honestly, I have never come across this theology of forgiveness. If someone in confession confesses to a serious sin such as abuse or murder the confessor will normally make absolution conditional on the penitent reporting to the police. This is why forcing clergy to reveal what is told to them in confession is huge mistake. Catholic clergy will never break the seal of the confessional but the threat that attempts will be made to make them do so will stop penitents being frank.

As well as sending the penitent to the police, confessors will also point out that God’s forgiveness does not rule out the need for legal penalties or, where appropriate, reparation to victims. Knowing that a pattern of abuse is almost impossible to break, bishops are not being kind or forgiving in moving abusive clergy to another parish. Allowing the law to take its course and then providing some kind of care and counselling for the perpetrator but not a future opportunity of ministry may be the kindest policy.

All this could have been learnt from Jason Berry’s reporting 30 years ago.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) [Bishop of Chichester] Martin Warner–Safeguarding: what we got wrong, and the steps we are taking to put it right

The diocese of Chichester was used as a case study for inquiring into child sexual abuse in the Church of England. Some have wished to claim immunity from our failings, regarding us an aberration and unlike more “normal” dioceses.

More careful consideration, however, suggests that what happened here was characterised by attitudes that were not unknown elsewhere.

If, for example, we look at the case of one highly manipulative offender, Roy Cotton, factors emerge at an early stage that might account for why no effective disciplinary action was taken against him.

First, academic snobbery: Cotton was an Oxbridge graduate. Second, social snobbery: he worked in an independent preparatory school before ordination.

Third, manipulating episcopal patronage: he was exempted from selection scrutiny and spent only one term in training. After being ordained in his home diocese and serving a curacy there, he moved to Chichester with a glowing reference from his bishop, and subsequently moved from one parish to another with apparent ease.

Fourth, at the end of his ministry in Chichester, he was dealt with leniently in old age because of illness and infirmity….

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Surviving Church) A Survivor’s Reply to the Archbishops’ pastoral letter on the IICSA

Another point: if you’re going to start a pastoral letter with a biblical quotation, make it an appropriate one. The passage which came to my mind when I read your letter was another saying of Jesus:

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (Mt. 5:23-24)

We have just spent three weeks finding out how much is justly held against the leaders of our Church. The debt is huge, but you can at least make a start. John, you need to work on being reconciled with Matt Ineson before you next attend church. Justin, what about making amends to Gilo for those 17 unanswered letters? But only if you take Jesus seriously, of course.

Finally I’d like to say, in my most pastoral manner, that neither of you seems good at responding appropriately to people who’ve been on the receiving end of the bad stuff that happens in religious organisations. So here’s another suggestion. When you need to write a letter like the one we’ve just had, or to make a statement, run it past a survivor first. Most of us don’t want you to look uncaring and incompetent, we really don’t. We can help you to write sensitively, to respond appropriately, to offer assistance that will actually make a difference. Many of us have years of experience working with other survivors; researching; struggling with the theological and spiritual implications of being abused. Some of us can even contribute liturgical material you might find useful. We survivors offer a resource for the Church that you need badly. Don’t continue to despise it.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Christian Today) Church of England made ‘conscious effort to treat survivors badly’, inquiry hears

David Greenwood, a solicitor for a number of abuse victims in Sussex, said the ‘Anglican Church has proved itself incapable of self governance’ in the case of child abuse by its own priests.

He compared the Church of England’s handling of abuse allegations with the Catholic Church, which is influenced by a papal decree known as Secreta Continere, handed down in 1974, which has imposed strict secrecy on the investigation of child abuse allegations within the church.

‘The evidence demonstrates the Church’s institutions have worked in concert to resist cases [of abuse],’ Greenwood said in his concluding statement this morning.

‘It could be said that the Catholic Church’s more brazen approach to resisting cases due to their written rules on secrecy is actually less malign than the Anglican resistance which has required conscious effort to treat survivors badly.’

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Surviving Church) Stephen Parsons: IICSA–reflections on Archbp Welby’s conclusions

A second word came out of [Archbp Justin] Welby’s reflections at the end of the questions by Fiona Scolding. This was the word ‘tribalism’. The Archbishop wanted to make the point that when groups or factions within the church band together to protect themselves and their privileges, that creates an atmosphere highly hostile to good and transparent safeguarding. Although he used the word tribalism in the context of protecting vulnerable people in the church, it was clear that this word also sums up many of the problems being faced by the Church of England in other areas. Tribalism seems to be rife in the whole Anglican Communion and is the cause of many of its intractable divisions.

Those of us listening to his words realise that, for the Archbishop, church tribalism is a source of deep frustration. The problem is that everyone feels stronger when they band together with others to accomplish a particular task. Some tribalism is of course healthy. The church rightly encourages people to gather together the purposes of study, prayer and worship. Feeling support from others as we grow together in community is something that enriches our lives. But community or communion can become something dark when it descends into tribalism. This negative side of community is manifested when the individual surrenders their thinking and feeling to a group mind. In political terms this is seen in mass movements whether on the Right or on the Left. Anyone who attends a fascist rally does not have to think for themselves. He or she is part of something great and of enormous power. The Movement, the Cause has replaced the individual isolated functioning which belongs to a single person. Within the mass gathering there is power; outside the rally there is only insignificance and a sense of personal weakness.

A readiness to surrender our individual weakness in exchange for tribal power is perhaps not as far away from each of us as we would like to think.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) IICSA: the dean’s bonfire and the destroyed report at Chichester Cathedral

A former Dean of Chichester Cathedral, the late John Treadgold, burnt a batch of files suspected to contain sensitive personnel material upon his retirement in 2001, the Dean of Worcester, the Very Revd Peter Atkinson, confirmed on Tuesday.

Dean Atkinson, who was Canon Chancellor of Chichester Cathedral at the time of the incident, was giving evidence to a public hearing conducted by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA).

The hearing, now in its third and final week, is using the Chichester diocese as a case study.

Asked by Counsel about the burning of files, Dean Atkinson said: “He [Dean Treadgold] had retired in the autumn of 2001 and moved a short distance away. What I remember of the episode is that he returned to the Deanery, which then was empty — this was long before Dean Frayling arrived — removed a number of files from the Deanery basement and had a fire in the garden.

“I don’t know what the files were. I think there is some indication that they might have been old Chapter files, but they may well have been his own. It’s a bit odd that he’d moved away and then came back to do this, and it was sufficiently troubling for us to mention this to the police, which happened.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) Lord Williams backs abuse survivors’ demand for independent safeguarding body at IICSA

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, has given his support to one of the key demands of survivors of clergy abuse: the creation of an independent body to deal with safeguarding cases.

Speaking at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on Wednesday, Lord Williams said that there was a “strong case” for handing over safeguarding issues to a new agency outside of the normal Church of England structures.

“There’s a strong case for having some such arms-length body,” he replied, when asked about it by the lead counsel to the Inquiry’s investigation into the Anglican Church, Fiona Scolding QC.

Lord Williams said that such a move would, in theory, free the Archbishop to take more of a leadership position in safeguarding for the whole Church, but admitted that the reform might never appear high on “any Archbishop’s list of priorities”.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Tablet) Rowan Williams Admits Failings Over C Of E Child Abuse

The Church of England was “naive and uncritical” when in came to abuses of power by clergy, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

On day eight of a three-week hearing on the Anglican church as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Lord Williams of Oystermouth said that a mindset in which the authority of an ordained minister was thought to be “beyond criticism” was a “definitely a problem” when it came to preventing abuse.

“So much of this turns on how we understand the exercise of power in the Church, in which we have often been in the past — myself included — naïve and uncritical,” he admitted. “It did take us an unconscionably long time for us to really focus on the need of the complainant and the proper care,” he told the inquiry.

He added that this “top down model of authority” leaves “little mental or spiritual space for a victim to speak out in the confidence that they will be heard”.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(SA) Ruth Lukabyo–Youth Revival: The impact of the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade on young people

Dad was not the only young person whose life was transformed that day. In fact, a statistical analysis of the Sydney Crusade demonstrates that 60% of those who signed the decision card were under the age of 21. The age most highly represented was 12-15 years at 28%, followed by 16-21 years at 19%. Many call the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade a revival, but it was not only a revival, it was a youth revival.

Apart from the work of the Spirit, why did the Crusade have such a marked impact upon youth? Graham’s message was a traditional gospel message of the sinfulness of people and their need for forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This was not new.

What was new was the way it was communicated and Graham’s focus on young people. Youth nights were organised which were full of energy and infectious enthusiasm and were perhaps the most fruitful of the Crusade meetings. Associate evangelists spent hours at secondary schools, speaking at assemblies and lunch hour meetings. Graham spoke at Sydney University outside the Great Hall to a crowd of 4,000 students. Even at the main Crusade meetings, Graham would address young people separately and call them to dedicate themselves to Christ.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(CEN) Abuse survivor calls for senior Anglican bishops to resign over failures

[Matthew] Ineson points out that in the statement by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team ‘it is claimed that the Archbishop did not fail to act on any disclosure made, because the responsibility to respond and act lay with the diocesan bishop, namely Steven Croft’.

“The National Safeguarding Team are clearly stating here that Steven Croft should have acted,”he adds.

He points out that his alleged perpetrator, Trevor Devamanikkan,was charged in May 2017 with six serious charges of sexual abuse against Ineson. However, he committed suicide before the case could come to court.

“Steven Croft has admitted on several occasions that I disclosed my abuse to him in the media over the past 16 months. I have pursued the complaint against Steven Croft’s failures several times with the Church, who have blocked any attempt at investigation into his failures.

“The National Safeguarding Team now acknowledge those failures and I call on Steven Croft to resign with immediate effect,” said Ineson.

He also calls on Archbishop Sentamu to resign with immediate effect ‘for failing to act on my disclosure to him’.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Telegraph) Teach pupils the value of abstinence and celibacy, says Church of England

Pupils should be taught about the value of abstinence and celibacy as part of their sex education lessons, the Church of England has said.

In its submission to the Government’s overhaul of sex and relationships education the church also said that its lessons will also focus on “the Christian understanding of marriage as the context for sexual relationships”.

In a blog the Church’s chief education officer, the Rev Nigel Genders, says that relationships and sex education in schools should teach students about “healthy relationships and lifestyle choices”.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology

(Diocese of London) A Place They Can Own: How We Started Engaging Young People

I hope I didn’t look too horrified when my training incumbent mentioned on day one of my training post that I would be taking school assembly later that week.

I hadn’t done any schools work since my early 20’s – about three decades ago – and felt decidedly inadequate for the task. However, I found, as I have seen throughout my life as a Christian, that God uses whoever is available to do his work. Within a few weeks, taking assemblies became one of my weekly highlights.

Shortly after, I realised that there were a small number of children in Year Six at our church who had outgrown Sunday School, who we would almost certainly lose if we didn’t start doing something for their age-group. It didn’t seem right that the children would be making the huge leap from primary school to secondary school without spiritual support along the way. As I looked around the church to see who we could task with this vital role, I ended up back where I started – the 50-something curate.

A straw-poll revealed that the only time the teens were all around at the same time was in fact Sunday morning, so the first problem was that we didn’t have anywhere to host them, as the hall was being used for Sunday School. We thought about the bell-tower (to the horror of the bell-ringers!) but there was another available space: a small junk room (replete with junk) above the main hall. It was quickly cleared out, renamed ‘The Den’, painted and given to our teenagers to use as their own.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(Time) Teen Sexting Has Become Even More Common, Research Says, with about 1 in 4 now saying they receive such photos

73% of teenagers today have a smartphone, giving them access to all types of communication over text or social media. For many kids, that includes sexting—the sharing of sexual messages, images or videos—according to a new study.

The new report, published in JAMA Pediatrics, analyzed 39 studies with a total of about 10,300 young men and women under age 18. It found that sexting has become increasingly more common in recent years. Though the majority of teenagers don’t report sexting, 15% of teens say they send sexts and 27% receive them. The activity is also more common as young people get older, the study authors report.

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Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Photos/Photography, Pornography, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth