I don't know about you, but I am tired of feeling powerless every time another child is killed in this country. For the second year in a row, our teens from Holy Comforter’s Rainbow Trail Day Camp gear up for summer camp while wrestling with recent acts of violence that have personally and directly impacted them. As we work to love and support our kids through this yet again, I continue to search for something, anything, we can ALL do to keep this from happening again. Here’s what I’ve come up with, and I hope you’ll join me.
1. Spend time on the kids and teens around you. Learn their names, and use those names to say hi and ask how it’s going. And if they want to tell you how it’s going, take the time to listen. For a kid who’s feeling invisible, having a few adults who take the time to see them and listen to them could make a world of difference. I believe it takes a village to raise a child. Let’s be that village for the kids we see at church, at work, in our families, and in our neighborhoods.
2. Fund our schools. The people on the front lines with these kids are stretched too thin. More money = more teachers, counselors and staff = more per pupil attention. Let’s trust those on the front lines and invest in them.
3. Set a good example. Children watch how adults handle conflict and they hear how we treat people with whom we disagree. If they see us engaging civilly and respectfully, they will learn to solve their problems in the same manner.
4. Walk a mile in a teenager's shoes. Technology has changed how our children move through the world. You may be "technologically challenged", but spend some time talking with a kid about the best and the worst that non-stop access to technology and social media has to offer. Here’s an article to get you started. https://childmind.org/article/how-using-social-media-affects-teenagers/
5. Walk another mile in a teenager's shoes. Ask a junior or senior what it takes to get into a "good" college these days. You'll be stunned by what they tell you.
6. Learn about the warning signs for depression, suicidal, and violent thoughts in kids and teens, and what to do if you see them. Here’s another article to get you started: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/Pages/Mental-Health-and-Teens-Watch-for-Danger-Signs.aspx
7. Learn about the latest video games and movies all the kids are playing. Do we know how growing/changing brains are affected by the games they play and the images they see? Are we willing to take that chance? Maybe it's time to talk about it.
8. Support parents. Parenting has always been hard. Parenting in an age when everyone has access to your kids at all hours, parents are shamed and blamed constantly, and expectations for our kids are through the roof is bordering on impossible. Parents need a village, too.
9. Assume the best. For every "bad apple" there are hundreds of "good apples" trying to make their way through a big, hostile, confusing world at a ridiculously fast pace. When you see a teenager, assume they're one of the good ones and treat them accordingly. Your affirmation will pay dividends.
10. Volunteer or become a mentor. If every one of us makes a positive and lasting impact in the life of one child, together we can turn this around. At Holy Comforter there are numerous ways to support our kids: teach Godly Play, chaperone youth group outings, help with summer camps and BCC, or volunteer for Growing Home. In our community, organizations like A Precious Child, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), and Broomfield Buddies offer a variety of opportunities to support children and teens.
Jamie Rumsey, Senior Warden