July/August 2010 - Vol. 41


.Air Pressure

by Michael Shaughnessy

Schools now block Internet sites to prevent youth from accessing harmful material. Here are some of the site categories they block. Alcohol, Anonymizers, Chat Rooms, Cheating, Credit Cards, Criminal Skills, Dating Services, Drugs, Fantasy Sports, Gambling, Gaming, Gruesome Content, Hacking, Hate Speech, Malicious Software, Media Downloads, Messaging (IM, SMS, MMS), Mobile Phone Utilities, Nudity, Online Auctions, P2P/File Sharing, Personal Network Storage, Phishing, Pornography, Profanity, Shareware/ Freeware, Shopping, Sports, Spyware, Tobacco, Violence, Visual Search Engines and Weapons.

Does filtering software really work? Somewhat, and sometimes, but new technology makes it hard to keep bad stuff from seeping into the lives of teens. Can you build a wall that never leaks? Not really. The next, new, bad thing is already seeping into youth culture and will probably soon be affecting our children. Can we build the perfect defense against the world's offense? No. We can do some effective things but what is really needed is a good offense. 

The Metrodome in Minneapolis is a helpful image for an effective offense strategy. This stadium has a cloth roof that is held up by positive air pressure. When you are in the stadium you don't notice that the air pressure is above normal. Then the game finishes and the exit doors open. As soon as you get in front of the doors you are blown out the doors because of the positive pressure of the stadium. Nothing seeps into the stadium.

In a similar way, youth are much more resistant to the pressure of the world when they are filled with the Spirit, with strong conviction, clear thinking, vision and purpose.

Most youth react to defensive parenting and defensive youth work. One of the main things it communicates to them is, "Be afraid." Most of them are already afraid enough possibly not of the right things but they are afraid!

TO THE POINT
Successful youth work equips teens with courage and faith. It fills them with a positive approach to the challenges they face. If we equip them with courage, they will be heroes. If we equip them with fear, they will be cowards.

[Michael Shaughnessy is an elder in The Servants of the Word and the Director of Kairos in North America. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high school, university and post university aged people.].
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