We're digging into the 5 most common lies that teenage girls believe. To find the other lies- click part 1, part 2 and part 3. When girls believe these lies they live life according to what they hold as truth.
This lie is practical. And sometimes we, as youth workers, forget how important it is for us to speak to the practical.
Lie #4- I am safe online
I think most teens "know" of the dangers online but the majority seem to believe that these dangerous things will never happen to them. No one believes they are the negative statistic. So, teenagers make themselves more and more vulnerable online.
1 in 3 girls are victim to online cyberthreats or bullying.
1 in 5 teens have been solicited for sex last year (Only 25 percent of the youth who were approached told a parent).
1 in 8 youth ages 8-18 discovered that someone they were communicating with online was an adult pretending to be much younger
47% of teens post pictures online for others to see without any privacy settings. (This is an older statistic- before Instagram)
1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras
About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others
When you have a young girl struggling with the lies about who she is and what defines her and than you add in the online dangers, what you have is constant vulnerability. Vulnerable girls with access to danger at their fingertips.
In your youth ministry and in my youth ministry are girls who are part of these stats. We have girls being bullied online and we have girls who are having inappropriate relationships online with dangerous people.
As youth workers, what is our role in this conversation?
1. Stay informed. Know what the trends are online in your area. Ask your students, they are more then willing to give you an education. In our area, there was a rise in our students creating these "ask me" pages. These pages are huge avenues for bullying. Being informed help me take the next steps to care for the girls in my church.
2. Keep Parents Informed. When a new trend comes along online, tell your parents. The more they know, the better they can care for their kids. Communication strengthens our partnership with parents.
3. Intervene When Necessary. If you see or hear about a student making decisions online that are making them vulnerable, then it is time to intervene. Connect with the student or if needed with a student and a parent. The internet is just too dangerous for us to not take action.
Two years back there was a young girl in our ministry who started corresponding with man online. It went on for awhile until her older brother find out and went to her parents. One year after her parents found out, she was back online posting pictures on Instagram to over 1000 "friends". Friends whose name alone on Instgram communicated that they were not safe people. Because we knew her history and we stayed informed in her life, we got to intervene through a partnership with her parents. Fortunately, she is making way better decisions online now and is actively serving in our ministry. She shared her story in our ministry a few months back.
This is why as youth workers we sometimes have to dive into conversations that don't seem to be super spiritual. We are shepherds. We are to care for our flock...and to help protect them from danger. The internet is a dangerous place for insecure and struggling girls. Let's walk with them in life...on and offline.
What are the online trends of your students? Do your students think they are safe online?