13 Reasons Why: Making Noise or Making Change?

13 Reasons Why: Making Noise or Making Change?

Recently, season 3 of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why was released. Because of its implications on teenage culture, Teen Life has been following this show since the beginning, and last month, I finished the 3rd installment of this controversial series.

Let me start by saying that this show is not one I would recommend teenagers watch. I would not even recommend that adults watch it with its mature content and language. However, I know that teens continue to watch it, and so it begs the question: Is 13 Reasons Why helping or hurting teenagers?

In this third season, the Netflix show covered sex, drugs, abortion, prostitution, gun violence, bullying, sexual abuse, illegal immigration, steroid use, and sexual identity. These are issues and topics that today’s adolescents are wrestling with, but is this the format to discuss it? To quote one of the characters on the show, “But you’re not making change, you’re just making noise!”

Wow.

What a quote! And so applicable to almost anything in our culture, especially with this age of social media driven content.

So many people want their ideas, problems, concerns, and injustices heard. That is not a bad thing at all, but there is a difference between making change and just making noise! Here are a few ways that we can encourage teenagers (and ourselves) to make more than just noise.

Be willing to listen.
There is so much injustice going on right now in our country and world. It isn’t right and it shouldn’t be tolerated, but before you shout your thoughts, be willing to listen. Listen to those who have been hurt and marginalized. Listen to different opinions in a respectful way. Noise leaves little room for other voices, but change cannot happen with just one person, so listen to those around you!

Have a purpose.
If your goal is just to be angry, that is not the best way to motivate change. Have a purpose behind your words and actions. Pick a cause that you are passionate about and work to make our world better. We can’t all be champions for every issue – there isn’t enough time! But we can be allies and friends to those already doing good work. We can be encouragers. We can pick a few things to put our resources and energy behind!

Look to change yourself.
Change is difficult. Like 13 Reasons Why shows, a culture and attitude cannot change overnight. But you can start with yourself! Be honest and evaluate how you can change and grow. Do you have bias you need to face? Are you being inconsiderate to other points of views? Are you invalidating the feelings of others? This type of reflection is not easy and can even be painful at times. Be willing to ask hard questions and start conversations to grow.

Noise drowns out everything else where change is willing to listen. Noise stays the same while change has purpose. Noise is passive where change takes action. Noise can stay behind a computer device or screen while change starts a bigger conversation outside of social media.

In the midst of racial injustice, sexual abuse, school shootings, suicide and more, we need to be having conversations. While I might not agree with the method of 13 Reasons Why, I will encourage you to be brave enough to talk about difficult topics with teenagers. They know what is happening. They see more than we realize at school and in the lives of their friends. They listen, absorb, read, and investigate. Please don’t let them take on this task alone! Show them how we can start conversations to make change. Be more than noise this week!

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Marketing & Development Director

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

10 Years of Thankfulness

10 Years of Thankfulness

Hopefully you aren’t tired of celebrating 10 years of Teen Life, because we would not be celebrating if it wasn’t for YOU.

This year, we are thankful for many things, but as we reflect on Thanksgiving Day, we can’t help but show our appreciation to those who have been part of Teen Life for the last 10 years, and especially to those who have impacted the life of a teenager.

So here we go.

Thank you to our staff and board who have poured time, dreams, and vision into Teen Life. Thank you for having a passion and love for teenagers – life lived better started with you. Each idea and encouragement has had a direct impact on the lives of teenagers!

Thank you to our incredible volunteers. You are the ones who make our Support Groups come to life each and every week. You take time out of your busy day to play with play doh, color with crayons, and talk about meaningful topics like relationships, stress, and courage. You are empowering teens, whether you ever get thanked by the students themselves or not.

Thank you to the donors and supporters of Teen Life. Your belief in Teen Life and the future of teenagers cannot be overlooked! You have donated money, resources, expertise, food, baby items, time and so much more. You may not always get to see the faces of the teenagers who are part of Teen Life Support Groups, but you are the reason schools can have free groups on their campus.

Thank you to the counselors and school staff who advocate for students each week. We are honored that we get to partner with you to provide resources to teenagers. You are the voices they trust and the people they look to long after the Teen Life groups end. Thank you for opening your campus and trusting us with your students. Your role and commitment to teens in invaluable!

Thank you to all of the students who choose to be a part of Teen Life Support Groups. You challenge us, make us laugh, make us think, and always keep us on our toes. Thank you for your honesty, candidness, and trust. You are the reason we do this – the reason we recruit, volunteer, create curriculum, and show up every week.

I could go on and on – but I am sure it would turn into one of those Oscar speeches that is way too long and still forgets someone important! We could never express our thankfulness for the last 10 years adequately, but Teen Life’s mission, vision, and growth is because of you.

You are our reason for the season. So humbly, we thank you.

We also encourage you to reach out to who you are thankful for today! Maybe it is a teen in your life or a family member. Maybe you want to reach out to a teacher, youth minister, counselor, or adult who was instrumental in your teen years. Thank those you love, those you just met, or the person who encourages you to keep going. Let’s not let this holiday or season pass without thanking those around us.

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is our Marketing & Development Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
The Truth on School Life & Successful Students

The Truth on School Life & Successful Students

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 In this episode of Season 3 of the Stay Calm, Don’t Panic! Podcast, Chris Robey talks to two school counselors about what they are currently seeing in our public schools. While Lindsey and Tammy both work at two very different schools, they give great insight into what students are facing and offer valuable advice on how we can support teenagers in order to make their school experiences more positive. School is a vital part of the teenage years, let’s discuss how we can help students be more successful!

In this episode, Lindsey and Tammy discuss…

  • Trends seen by school counselors
  • Common stressors that students face
  • The kind of support students can receive from school
  • Some qualities of successful students
Ask yourself…
  • Am I aware of current teen trends?
  • How can I help support my student’s school life at home?
Go ask a teen…
  • What is one small thing that would help make school better?
  • Do you know what resources are available to you at school?
Resources:

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

About Us:

Chris Robey is the Program Director for Teen Life. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter!

Karlie Duke started working as Teen Life’s Communications Director after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 5 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram!

Have a question?
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
4 Ways the “Check-In” Transforms Relationships

4 Ways the “Check-In” Transforms Relationships

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 In this first episode of Season 3 of the Stay Calm, Don’t Panic! Podcast, Chris sits down with Dr. Mark DeYoung to talk about the importance and power of the check-in. Talking to teenagers is about more than just getting information, it can build relationships and help them find their own identity. You don’t want to miss these tips on how to make the most of the check-in!

In this episode, Dr. Mark DeYoung discusses…

  1. The importance of the check-in for building relationships.
  2. How empathy can help teens shape their own self identity.
  3. The benefit of asking teens how they are doing as a regular part of routine.
  4. How to best deal with answers like “I don’t know” and “I’m just fine.”
Ask yourself…
  • Am I asking questions or making statements?
  • Do I have an agenda when asking this question? Or am I just seeking to understand?
  • Is this a good time to have a conversation? Or should I try again later?
Go ask a teen…
  • What was your favorite part of your day?
  • Was there something that made you laugh today?
  • How upset/happy did that make you feel on a scale of 1 to 10? What makes it that number? Can you tell me a little more?
Resources:

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

About Us:

Dr. Mark DeYoung is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over eighteen years experience counseling and helping families and children. His BA is in Human Resources, and Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. He completed his PhD in Child Development in the spring of 2008. He currently provides In-Home counseling services for families in the Fort Worth region of North Texas. His private practice includes the following counseling services: Marriage Therapy, Family Therapy, Foster family therapy, Adoption work, Parenting support and coaching.

Chris Robey is the Program Director for Teen Life. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter!

Karlie Duke started working as Teen Life’s Communications Director after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 5 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram!

Have a question?
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
Mark Matlock Talks The Importance of Youth Ministry

Mark Matlock Talks The Importance of Youth Ministry

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This episode, Chris and Karlie are joined by youth ministry expert, author, and national speaker, Mark Matlock. Join the conversation as Mark discusses the importance of youth ministry and how churches can reach teenagers. Whether or not you attend church, this is a great conversation about the importance of relationships and a place to belong in the life of a teenager.

In this episode, you’ll find out…

  • Why youth ministry matters.
  • How to engage teenagers in the body of the church.
  • The importance of intergenerational relationships.
  • How youth group can impact a teenager as they move into adulthood.
Ask yourself…
  • Am I intentionally placing other adults in the lives of teenagers?
  • How can I better engage teenagers in the church body as a whole?
Go ask a teen…
  • Do you feel like you are a necessary part of the church body?
  • What is a problem you see with the church? How can we work together to solve that problem?
Resources:

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

About Us:
Mark Matlock has been working with youth pastors, students, and parents for more than two decades. He is currently the president of WisdomWorks and is the former Executive Director for Youth Specialties (YS) and creator of the PlanetWisdom student conferences. Mark has written more than twenty books for teens and parents, including the Wisdom On… series, Living a Life That Matters, Smart Faith, Real World Parents, and Raising Wise Children. You can learn more at wisdomworks.com or markmatlock.com
Chris Robey is the Program Director for Teen Lifeline, Inc. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter!
Karlie Duke started working as Teen Lifeline’s Communications Director after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 5 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram!
Have a question?
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!