Girl Commits Suicide After Nude Pic is Circulated

Posted on: 03/12/09 10:28 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This is really sad.

18-year-old Jesse Logan did something all too common- she sent a naked picture of herself to her boyfriend. When they broke up, the boyfriend shared the pictures with others, and the harassment began. One thing led to another… until finally Jesse’s mom came home one day to find her hanging in her bedroom closet. The pressure was too much. Jesse took her own life (click here for the CNN video with an interview with her mother).

You’ve heard us talking about a trend known as “sexting” (many of you read our Youth Culture Window article on the subject), a stepping stone to teenagers using cell phones for posting/viewing naked pictures of themselves or others (yes, we wrote a Youth Culture Window article on that subject as well). That latter article revealed these facts:

  • 20% of teenagers say they’ve sent (or posted) naked or semi-naked photos or videos of themselves, mostly to be “fun or flirtatious,” (33% of 20-26 year olds have done the same)
  • 33% of teenage boys say they’ve seen nude or semi-nude images sent to someone else (about 25% of teenage girls have done the same)
  • 39% of teenagers say they’ve sent suggestive text messages (59% of those ages 20-26 admit to it as well)
  • 48% of teens have received sexually suggestive text messages (64% of young adults also have)

The story of Jesse is sobering because it reminds us that these numbers are kids. Each of these numbers represents a story… the story of a kid struggling to find themselves in a world that often applauds risque’ behavior.

Remember to pray for Jesse’s family.

As parents and youth workers, we should read articles about this story with our kids, perhaps even showing them that CNN video linked above. Then talk with them about choices and their consequences. This isn’t a time to lecture… but a time to let the article tell its story. It’s powerful by itself. David also provides us with further conversation helps in the bottom of his Youth Culture Window article on Mobile Porn.

(ht to Tom B. for the CNN story)

America Becoming Less Christian

Posted on: 03/10/09 10:03 AM | by Jonathan McKee

America is becoming less “Christian” according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Really? I would have never guessed. (sarcasm implied)

75% of Americans call themselves Christian, according to the survey, where in 1990, the figure was 86%. (CNN, March 3, 2009)

I’ve been looking at these stats for years, and they always seemed to land around 80%. Newsweek did a survey a few years ago and 81% of believers called themselves Christian. About 5 years ago I posted an article on our website about reaching out to the “unchurched” and quoted a stat from 1999 when 82% said they were Christian. But as I stated in that article, many of these proclaimed Christians have no idea what this word means. It seems to mean a lot more about the religion that was handed down to them, rather than being a follower of Christ and his beliefs.

I found it fascinating that the CNN article sited a difference between “evangelicals” and others:

The survey also found that “born-again” or “evangelical” Christianity is on the rise, while the percentage who belong to “mainline” congregations such as the Episcopal or Lutheran churches has fallen.

One in three Americans consider themselves evangelical, and the number of people associated with mega-churches has skyrocketed from less than 200,000 in 1990 to more than 8 million in the latest survey.

The article goes on to note an increasing divide between evangelicals and those turning away from “religion” as a whole. fascinating stuff. I encourage you to read it.

It’s interesting to watch religious (and anti-religious) trends. Last year I blogged about Americans treating religion like a salad bar where they take what they want, and leave what doesn’t match their lifestyle.

This is the time of “what’s in it for me?” This mindset creates a huge divide between true followers of Christ and the rest of the world. Christ’s actual followers believe in love, harmony and self sacrifice, where the world believes in lust, “my rights,” and self preservation.

This divide is not a rebellious divide where Christians make a bunch of noise. It’s a divide where people will see hope in the lives of Christ’s followers and notice something different. These Christians will be ready to answer when people ask about the hope that they have (I Peter 3:15-18)

If the people of Christ continue to grow, then the divide will only become larger.


(ht to KJ)

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The Comeback of Modest Clothes

Posted on: 03/9/09 3:24 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Despite all the negatives of a dismal economy… I see one positive on the horizon: more modest clothes.

USA Today had a fascinating article yesterday about the return of modest apparel options. Apparently when the economy was booming, stores could afford to operate with a “what you see is what you get” mentality. Now these stores can’t afford to, as the article says, “ignore the muted voices asking for, say, a decent supply of sleeved shirts or prom dresses that show more fabric than skin.”

The article goes on to say:

Now, however, it’s the rare retailer who’s willing to take the chance of turning off any possible customer. Luxury-store clerks can no longer afford to look down at scruffy shoppers, and store owners of every sort are recognizing the one-size-fits-all approach to retail buying no longer works.

Whether it’s more of a fiscal or moral shift, understated girls’ clothing may indeed be making a comeback.

Even flashy Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld declared “bling is over” and noted the economy is prompting a “new modesty,” in an interview with the International Herald Tribune this year.

Retail consultant Ken Nisch says the trend is more moderation than modesty, but the effect may be the same.

“It’s not because of a moral revival but about sensibility,” says Nisch, chairman of retail brand and design firm JGA. “What’s provocative has often been ultra trendy, and it just doesn’t make sense to buy things you can’t wear for a lot of occasions anymore.”


(ht to Jamie L.)

Weaning Off Obama’s Crutch

Posted on: 03/6/09 11:42 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’ve always have thought President Obama was a great speaker. I can’t even imagine having to do that many speeches… being careful of EVERY single word (knowing that one wrong nuance or inference could be front page headlines)… what a tough job. But I found it interesting to find out that Obama doesn’t go anywhere without his teleprompter.

Anyone who’s heard me speak or train knows that I’m a big advocate for “no notes.” If you see me on stage, I only have a pocket Bible. No notes. My dad always did the same. At my Using 10-Minute Talks seminar last year at the YS National Youth Worker Conferences, I instructed youth workers to use shorter, story-driven talks… with no notes!

I guess Obama is trying to wean himself of his “notes” too. Yahoo news reports:

Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual — not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small.

After the teleprompter malfunctioned a few times last summer and Obama delivered some less-than-soaring speeches, reports surfaced that he was training to wean himself off of the device while on vacation in Hawaii. But no such luck.

People often react when I say “no notes.” But think about it. We want kids to remember what we say… don’t we? How can we expect them to remember the gist of what we said, if we can’t even remember “the gist.” And that’s all I expect speakers to memorize: the gist.

When I say “no notes,” I don’t mean “memorized.” My outline is memorized. My intro, transitions and closing are memorized. But my wording is extemporaneous. Think about it. If you hear a good joke and then repeat it at work the next day. Did you memorize it? No. But, unless you’re my wife Lori (she can’t tell a joke to save her life), you remember the details and basically tell the joke in your own wording.

Many stand up comedians will do this. You’ll see comics reviewing a list before they go on stage. If you watch me before a talk, I have a list, much like a stand up comedian’s list.

Last Sunday morning I spoke… here was my list:

What were you thinking?
as a kid…
faulty decision making
How can I change?
the secret, in 8 small verses
Ephesians 4: 17-24
God Wants to Change the way you THINK
Confessions about food
Kings Game
God wants to change the way you THINK
What are you putting in your head? Surrounding yourself?
Next verses
Get rid of fat clothes

Yes… I just typed that out without looking at any notes. Why? I have that list memorized. That list means nothing to you. But it means everything to me.

I never use the list on stage. It’s always in my back pocket, but I have never used it.

A list like that isn’t as hard as it looks. Those aren’t random words. Each story and idea flows from the last and to the next. It’s an easy memorize.

Wow… this is becoming a long blog.

I’ll be teaching this again at the YS Conventions this year… maybe you’ll just have to come check it out. 🙂

(ht to David for the article)

Jonas Brothers Talk Hip Hop

Posted on: 03/4/09 11:41 PM | by Jonathan McKee

MTV news seemed to mock the idea, but I don’t think it’s giving the Jonas Bros any credit. Look at the situation in context:

The article is titled, “Jonas Brothers Go Hip-Hop?”  Okay.. it does sound a little funny. But don’t worry. They aren’t doing a Jaoquin Phoenix. The article reports that the brothers simply have one song that might benefit from the influence of a hip hop artist like Common or Mos Def.

Featuring a Hip-Hop artist isn’t exactly a stupid marketing move in today’s culture. I actually recommended the same thing to several Christian bands in the last year. (Think about it. It happens all the time in the secular world. Consider last year’s number seven most downloaded song by OneRepublic AND Timbaland: “Apologize.” Or the number 10 song where Madonna joined Justin Timberlake and… again… Timbaland for “Four Minutes”)

It’s hard to deny Hip-Hop’s popularity.

The only question is… could they bring in someone clean? That will be the hard part.

Fraternizing Banned

Posted on: 03/3/09 8:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This world continues to be a scary place to live in. Things once good, made bad by a few, are now banned. More policies are continuing to be enforced preventing adults from connecting with students through technology.

The power of a positive adult role model in a kid’s life is undeniable. Nothing makes an impact like a caring adult. But caring adults need to be careful these days. In December I blogged about some of the precautions youth workers need to take when using technology to connect with kids. I provided a few examples of some legislation in place that would ban teachers from having social network relationships with students.

Last week we saw another article (ht to Anastasia at about a new policy enforced by a WI school board putting a halt to “irresponsible communication” between staff and students via social networking and IM.

Perhaps good ol’ face to face contact isn’t so bad.


(ht to David)