Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where There is Violence . . .

We often make assumptions about our students and where they come from and so fail to address the issue of violence that affects or has the potential to affect them personally. But might we be doing them an injustice? What could we be missing? Jeanne Hoeft makes the point that "if we look closer at the individual lives of these young people we might be surprised at the level of violence that they encounter on a daily basis---as victims, as perpetrators, and as witnesses" (Hoeft 2008, 109). The young people to which she refers are those of a '"typical" Midwestern suburban United Methodist Church" (Hoef 2008, 108) where on the surface all seems well but if we go deeper we would be amazed at how much violence they encounter as recipient, the one who experiences it, or the one who sees it. I daresay this is true beyond the Midwest suburban UMC youth group. Hoeft goes on to talk about violence and the places and ways in which it is encountered. She moves us away from the stereotypes that seek to locate violence in particular communities and/or racial ethnic groups.

In discussing violence, Hoeft also talks about the fear that is often at the root of violent acts. Thus, in proposing ways of practicing care in dealing with violence she offers four alternatives to "instilling more fear" (Hoeft 2008, 123).

~~How do you deal with the issue of violence in your student ministry?
~~How might you be, unknowingly, instilling fear?
~~How can you help your students face their fears and the violence they encounter?

Hoeft, Jeanne. "The Protected Generation: Fear, Violence, and Perfect Love." In Loving God, Loving God, Loving Neighbor: Ministry With Searching Youth, 108-126. XLibris, 2008.
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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