David’s brand new Youth Culture Window article jabbed me twice this week.
David’s YCW article is always good. But this week’s article about the declining self esteem in young girls had me squirming in my seat twice (for two totally different reasons).
I first questioned the stats about drinking. Do you ever do that? Do you ever read something and think to yourself, “No. That’s gotta be wrong!”
More and more teenage girls are trying to drink their self-esteem problems away. We know that roughly 11% of all the alcohol that is drank in America is consumed by a teenager, but recent studies by Columbia University debunk the myth that teenage guys drink more than teenage girls. At the heart of the increase is, you guessed it, low self-esteem. So now it’s the girls who are drinking the guys under the table.
I literally thought, “Yeah, right.” But then I read the report he linked (Don’t you love how we link the studies we quote in the YCW articles?) and looked it up myself. I even jumped back to another Youth Culture Window article he wrote back in October, “The Blame Game on Drinking Games,” an article that I remembered had quoted (and linked) the most recent Center for Disease Control youth risk survey results. Sure enough, more girls were “lifetime alcohol users” than males. Males and females were almost exactly tied for “current alcohol users” (had at least on drink of alcohol on at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey).
This surprised me. I thought I had remembered guys drinking a lot more. More guys are found to do “episodic heavy drinking” or “buying alcohol.” But girls not only were keeping up in most these drinking stats, they surpassed guys in a few of them. That was surprising to me. And that Columbia University report said that much of this drinking is tied to self esteem issues.
The other part of David’s article that hit me was our response or application. What can we do to battle low self esteem in young girls?
Think about this for a second. How do we build the self esteem of our young girls? Do we just assure them that they are God’s creation? Do we just tell them to simply turn off MTV and stop looking at Vogue? Do we assure them that they’re pretty?
These all sound good in theory… but are young girls actually going to listen to this? Is our voice louder than the media images they are taking in telling them that they just don’t measure up?
That’s where David and I went back and forth a little with the draft of this article. We realized that this issue doesn’t have easy answers. But here’s a little piece of what we finally came up with:
One of the most effective strategies I’ve found to boost self-esteem is providing opportunities to serve. When we put young people in situations where they help others who are worse off than themselves, it is not only a great opportunity to show love and compassion to the needy, it provides these young people with a larger world view than the “plastic” exterior they see in the media and the shallow world around them. When students spend a weekend feeding the homeless or spending time with the elderly in a convalescent home, all of a sudden, their own perceived inadequacies are minimized. This is nothing to do with works. We are saved by grace, through faith. But as God begins to renew our mind and change us, we no longer looks to temporary fulfillment from this world (including looks, status, stuff) … instead we look to God for fulfillment
Seize opportunities to help kids be used by God..
Create these opportunities.