“not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”– Ephesians 2: 9-10
A trending topic on twitter today is #FreshmanAdvice. It is interesting to see what students are recommending to their peers that are entering into the first tumultuous year of high school. There are pictures of fish swallowing other fish in reference to kissing in hallways , screen captures or videos of the most accurate depiction of high school activity “High School Musical” (which I have seen and it is scary), but sadly there are more references to sexual activity or avoiding pregnancy than anything else. This is what is being shared for “freshman advice.”
I am not naïve to the fact that most of this activity is occurring at younger ages, but it is sad that this is a key to “surviving” high school. Is this how our students should be expected to enter into the most formidable time of their life? Is this the image of high school our students should embrace? I have a hard time believing this is so.
Seeing a young woman tweet “That Senior boy you think is cute, doesn’t like you. He only wants to see what your mouth can do #FreshmanAdvice” or a young man tweet “Take a nude pic, send it, become popular, get depressed, commit suicide, become famous #FreshmanAdvice” is disheartening. We live in a day and age where posting whatever you think or feel is a necessity to being recognized. We are experiencing an over-sexualized culture that, for many youth, is the way they have defined who they are. This is a painful reality!
As adults, parents, youth workers, or a caring community member, we each have a role to play in establishing a healthy self-image in our youth. This is essential in our young women! Our young women should not see their bodies as tools for success or popularity. They should not buy into the image portrayed on television that a healthy high school life includes sex, drugs, and giving the finger to authority. We must empower our young women to know who they are as beautifully and wonderfully made children of God, made for so much more! Their identity is not defined by popularity, but by character. Their character and integrity establishes their future and influence, which means they need to be pushed to aim higher than social “norms.”
Our young men need to know that women are made for more than our sexual wants. They need to know the same about who they are as young women do. They are made to do so much more and their character and integrity establishes their identity. They are not identified by their muscles, their clothes, their fighting skills, or how many young women they “conquer”. On the contrary, they are identified by the way they lift up others, encourage change, and empower the women around them.
High School is a time of development. Young people develop their self-esteem, self-image, and life direction during this time. They learn how to live and work together and develop bonds that can last a lifetime. We need to encourage and uplift them in order to help them see high school is a time of life-learning and discovering their potential to influence change in this world.
Young people “Trust your heart. Know you are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are children of God empowered to be more and do more than the world tells you. #FreshmanAdvice!”
Question: With the start of school just around the corner, are you speaking to your student about sexual pressure at school or in society? If you can, please share some ideas of how to guide the conversation for others.
If you are a young person, what do you think about this topic? Is it as bad as it seems?