Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Polls

In August of 1972, I was so angry, troubled, and alarmed about the policies of my government that I traveled hundreds of miles, slept outdoors, tried and failed to hold my breath through clouds of tear gas, and was very nearly arrested, while protesting at the Republican National Convention in Miami. 

Three months later, in November, I did not vote. 

I had just moved ... I was unclear on voter registration requirements, and ... blah, blah, blah.... Excuses, all of it.

It turned out I was right about the corruption of Richard Nixon and the cynics who enabled him, seeking power and profit at the expense of poorer, less educated, more vulnerable people. 

I had good reasons to be angry, and troubled and alarmed. I had good reasons to push through the tear gas and resist those people and their abuses of power.

I had good reasons to vote.

I’m pretty sure I was smart enough, even without the internet,  to get all that sorted in a timely manner. As a freshman, I managed to stand on line for hours to get into college classes I wanted. As a sophomore, I managed to talk my way into a new college a week after classes began. But, as a junior, after the tear gas and drama of public protest, somehow I didn’t manage to hit the voter registration deadline

Those days in Miami stand out as my most memorable days of protest against injustice and corruption. But my most meaningful days of protest of positive action in the cause of liberty and justice for all — are the days when I registered to vote in each state where I lived after 1972 — Georgia, Colorado, California, back to Colorado, California again, and Washington — and the days when I’ve voted in local, state, and national elections.

I would face tear gas again. I’ll never again face a fellow citizen, or someone who wished she could be a U.S. citizen, and say my voice didn’t matter enough to solve whatever puzzles I had to solve in order register and vote.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

separating displaced children from their parents

“In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.”
Former First Lady Laura Bush

Thursday, June 07, 2018

On contemporary white Evangelical thought

I keep stumbling on passages that stand in the face of contemporary white Evangelical thought — like this today, from William Barclay’s commentary on 1 Peter 4:
...again and again in the New Testament the duty of hospitality is pressed upon the Christians. The Christian is to be given to hospitality (Rom.12:13). A bishop is to be given to hospitality (1Tim.3:2);  the widows of the Church must have lodged strangers  (1Tim.5:10). The Christian must not forget to entertain strangers and must remember  that some who have done so have entertained angels unawares. (Heb.13:2). The bishop must be a lover of hospitality (Tit.1:8). And it is ever to be remembered that it was said to those on the right hand: “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me” while the condemnation of those on the left hand was: “I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me” (Matt.25:35,43).
From that, how did we come to this....

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Where are all the Promise Keepers?

The company I worked for in the 1990s made dozens of movies for Promise Keepers. I interviewed dozens and dozens of you guys from coast to coast. I stood next to you — tens of thousands at a time — at stadium events all over the U.S. 

You made commitments to stand with your brown skinned brothers no matter what. 

So... where are you now?

You made commitments to stand with your spouses, and sisters, and mothers, and daughters, no matter what?

Where are you now?

You made those commitments in the name of Jesus....

What can we expect from you? 

Where are you now?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Recap of What We’ve Learned About School Shooters + a Few Real World Suggestions

The picture of lethal violence among American adolescents is never more sobering than the morning after an event like the one that took place in Texas last Friday. The details of that story are yet to be revealed so there’s little to be said today about what led up that fateful incident.

In a bigger picture, the U. S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education conducted an exhaustive study of school shootings from 1974 - 2000. [1] Here are some of their findings: 

• Targeted school violence is rarely as sudden and impulsive as it appears.  
— About half of attackers develop the idea for at least a month.
— Most prepare their attack for at least two days.

• Few attackers are loners or losers. 
— Most appear to be mainstream kids. 
— Most live in two-parent homes. 
— Most are doing reasonably well in school. 
— Few have been in serious trouble at school. 
— Few have histories of violence toward others or cruelty to animals. 
— Many are involved in organized social groups in or out of school. 
— Nearly all act alone, but most have close friends.

• Almost all attackers engage in behavior that signals a need for help. — Most tell at least one peer what they’re thinking about. 
— In most cases at least one adult is concerned by pre-attack behavior. — About 60% display interest in violent media or personal writings.

• More than half of attackers are motivated by revenge.
— Most feel bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others. 
— More than half target one or more adults employed by the school. 
— Two-thirds tell someone about their grievance before the attack. 
— Less than one in five threatens his target(s) directly.

• Most attackers are sad before they’re angry. 
— Nearly 2/3 have a documented history of depression or desperation. 
— More than three-quarters have a history of suicidal expressions. 
— Almost all experience or perceive a significant loss prior to the attack. 
— Most exhibit considerable difficulty coping with that loss.

• Nearly all attackers use guns. 
— Handguns are most common, followed by rifles and shotguns.
— Nearly half carry more than one weapon into the attack.
— 68% of the guns are acquired at home or at the home of a relative.

Here’s the thing: If you’re looking for obvious patterns to help you spot kids who are likely to take guns to school with the intent to harm themselves or others, there is none. 

The Secret Service/Department of Education report concludes, “There is no accurate or useful ‘profile’ of students who engaged in targeted school violence.”

By no accurate or useful ‘profile’ they mean simply that adolescent school shooters are typically Caucasian male students who struggle with a self-defined loss and have relatively easy access to a firearm. 

Which means we need to keep an eye on roughly one in three American high school kids? Not very helpful... 

But it is what it is — both simpler and more complicated than almost anyone is prepared to accept: 

Preventing lethal adolescent violence depends on sustained, attentive relationships with ordinary schoolboys. 

This is quite simple because these guys are in constant contact with adults and peers who have a pretty good chance at reading the signals of potential violence.

And it’s complicated because sustained, attentive relationships require taking time for deep listening against the backdrop of observable behavior. 

It’s also complicated because it means taking the risk of thinking the unthinkable and speaking the unspeakable.

No one wants to think her son is capable of harming himself or others. But he may be. No one enjoys the prospect of asking her student if he’s having thoughts about suicide, or asking a youth group kid if he’s thinking about taking revenge on someone who caused him harm. But that’s what we have to do, want to or not.

Some practical suggestions:

Secure your guns
In 2017, 15,618 individuals died from firearm injuries in the United States—the death toll more than doubles if we include suicides.[2] Homes with guns are nearly five times more likely to experience suicide than homes without guns.[3] 68% of school shooters from 1974 through Columbine got their weapons at home from from the home of a relative.[1] 

This is not a Constitutional crisis — it’s due diligence. If you own guns, secure them and tell your relatives you expect them to do the same.[4]

Don’t frustrate kids needlessly 
Parents, teachers, coaches, employers, youth workers: consider this ancient wisdom: “…don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits” (Colossians 3:21, The Message). 

Perhaps the most common way adults come down too hard on kids is expecting more than an individual child can deliver at his or her stage of life. 

No matter how intelligent or accomplished he is, a teenaged boy is still a boy; relatively inexperienced, and subject to tidal surges of emotion; not yet fully mature in reasoning and judgment. Instead of coming down hard when a kid fails to live up to adult performance standards, bend down a little and meet him where he is. 

On our best days, we know what our children feel because we once felt it ourselves in a life that may seem long ago and far away but which nonetheless connects us to our children and each other. 

Remembering requires periodic trips through emotional neighborhoods many of us would just as soon not revisit. But it’s worth the journey because that kind of remembering helps us identify with an adolescent’s feelings and frame them in a larger context (all without diminishing the immediate circumstances and responsibilities). Sometimes that means holding a kid’s feet to the fire; other times it means knowing when to let up and show some mercy.

Look for signs of depression, desperation, and suicide 
Overall, adolescents stand a greater chance of dying by suicide than murder and a much greater chance of ending their own lives than ending the lives of others. None of us wishes to lose a child either way. 

This post is based on a chapter of a book I wrote with Rich Van Pelt called The Parent’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis. The Parent’s Guide includes chapters on dealing with Anger, Bullying, Death, Divorce, Hazing, Sexual Abuse, and Sexual Identity Crises — any of which may contribute to the possibility that a depressed or desperate young man may be a danger to himself or to others.

Pay attention to self-expression
Over a third of targeted school attackers have expressed themselves in violent writings — poems, essays, or journal entries — prior to their attacks. That’s three times as many as those who expressed interest in violent video games and half again as many as expressed interest in violent movies and books.[1] 

Creative writers shouldn’t be punished for creativity; writers should be able to discuss what they’ve written in age-appropriate literary terms. Trust your senses. If what a kid says about what he wrote (or drew or sang or painted) doesn’t pass the smell test, get help to sort it out sooner rather than later.

Create safe places
Kids need sanctuaries where they can vent and grieve and gain perspective without having to endure moralizing sermons. Do everything you can to create safe places where kids you care about are immune from physical, emotional and spiritual danger, judgment, and inhumanity.

I don’t think it’s too much to expect that safety should the norm among the adult and peer friendships, extended families, schools, workplaces and youth groups inhabited by our children. 

I don’t think that's too much to expect, but here in the real world we have to work hard and tirelessly to produce and sustain safe environments for our children. Mostly we seem to get that done a little at a time over a period of years. That’s fine…whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.

[Hint: If your child sees you enduring a relationship where you’re not safe — with a family member, "friend," spouse or romantic partner, neighbor, or church leader — chances are your child feels unsafe as well.

Keep checking in
You can’t know if your son is depressed or desperate about a real or perceived loss or injustice if you go for days at a time without meaningful contact. And that’s hard — everyone is busy and stressed and fatigued. 

Do it anyway. If you can’t come up with anything else, if you’re fortunate enough to have a dishwasher, disconnect it and get your son to dry while you wash. Talk about your day and ask honest, open-ended questions about his day. Do that enough days in a row, and he’ll start to believe you want an honest answer when you ask how things are going. Di whatever it takes to stay in touch.

Build Alliances with other adults
It takes a village. Shut up; it does.

It takes more than one or two adults to bring a child to adulthood. If you don’t have partners and collaborators, this will be much harder than it has to be; much harder than it should be. 

Find trustworthy people who agree with you about this and build mutually beneficial alliances to support each other for the wellbeing of your kids.

[1] B. Vossekuil, R. Fein, M. Reddy, R. Borum, and W. Modzeleski, The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program and U.S. Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center, Washington DC, 2002, http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_final_report.pdf (accessed 20 May, 2018).

[2] http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls.

[3] J. Doan, S. Roggenbaum, & K. Lazear. (2003). Youth suicide prevention schoolbased guide(c/p/r/s)—True/False 1: Information dissemination in schools—The Facts about Adolescent Suicide. Tampa, FL: Department of Child and Family Studies, Division of State and Local Support, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida. (FMHI Series Publication #219-1t), http://theguide.fmhi.usf.edu/pdf/True-false.pdf (accessed 20 May 2018).

[4] …And think very seriously about voting for candidates ready to resist the gun cartel and take common sense measures to secure "our guns" collectively. Again: not a constitutional crisis.This is about gun safety for the common good.

Also, see Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers, especially Rage, Bullying | Aggressor, Bullying | Target, and Suicide + Homicide Threat

Friday, May 18, 2018

Trauma Crisis HelpSheet for Youth Workers | Free Today

Traumatic Events Crisis HelpSheet is free through the weekend. Sad and angry it’s come to mass gun violence again…. Please share with youth worker friends.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Responding to Bullies | A Crisis HelpSheet

There's lots of attention on responding to the targets of bullying ... not as much on responding to aggressors beyond zero-tolerance banishment or other forms of retribution that don't address the need to make things right, as much as possible, and prevent further aggression in the context of community rather than in exile.

This Crisis HelpSheet — Bullying | Aggressor — covers what to do when you believe, or have good faith knowledge, that a teenager has bullied someone.

Also, see the Crisis HelpSheet, Bullying | Target.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Childlike ≠ Childish

I've been thinking lately, about Flannel Graph Jesus

Because, honestly, why would we expect young men and women to stay engaged in a childish conservation about faith and spiritual formation? 

We see a difference between "childlike" faith and "childish" faith, don’t we?

Are you involved with a group of people who are interested in spiritual formation? I wonder what stories, observations, questions, or lessons you might unearth after watching Flannel Graph Jesus together....

You can view the post-ironic millennial’s mild rant about Flannel Graph Jesus here: https://buff.ly/2Frq0x2

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Ahh! | Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers

I see a lot of Facebook pleas from youth workers who just got a call from a parent or teenager in a crisis....
Ahh! I have a parent coming to meet me in an hour — her daughter was molested ... they need help now ... what do I do!!!
This is not, it turns out, a good time to recommend a book — or even a chapter in a book. 

When the clock is ticking, the right amount of help, offered right now, is worth more than a crisis master class next month.

That’s why I launched Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers — because sometimes what a person needs is a one-page download with enough information to get through the day.

Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers Cover

— what to look for

— what to ask about

— what to do first

— what to do going forward

The life-or-death Crisis HelpSheets are free — the are just $2 each.

PRO TIP: You can wait for that panicky phone call from a parent with a teenager in crisis … OR … you can download a double-handful of Crisis HelpSheets right now and put them in a folder for when you need them, so….

BRO TIP: If you’re in
 a social network with folks who care for teenagers, tell them about Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers. They’re not gonna hate you for that.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers (and friends)

I keep seeing social media posts from youth workers who need help fast. They just took a call from a parent or teenager looking for help in a crisis....
Ahh! I have a parent coming to meet me in an hour — her daughter was molested ... they need help now ... what do I do!!!
 It turns out that's a bad time to recommend a book — or even a chapter in a book. The clock is ticking ... the right amount of help right now is more valuable than a crisis master class next weekend.

In response, I've launched a collection of Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers — one-page downloads that cover

— what to look for

— what to ask about

— what to do first

— what to do going forward

At present, about half the Crisis HelpSheets are free — three weeks after the mass murder in Parkland, in I'm not going to charge you for a HelpSheet on how to talk with someone you believe may be a threat to himself or others....

The HelpSheets that aren't free are just $2.

- If you're a youth worker, help yourself at thetinycompanycalledme.com.

- If you have a friend in youth work, send her on over.

- If you follow a social network of people who care for teenagers please let them know about the Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rage | A New Crisis HelpSheet for Youth Workers

Rage | A New Crisis HelpSheet for Youth Workers

Kids don’t usually get in trouble for being angry, frustrated, or afraid. 
Kids get in trouble when they break people’s stuff.
They get in trouble for making public threats.

They get in trouble when they hurt people, animals, and themselves.
Kids get in trouble when they rage.
Rage is uncontrolled fury, expressed in lashing out, violence, destruction, or self-harm. 
A new one-page Crisis HelpSheet for Youth Workers can help you figure out what to do when a kid rages. It’s part of a collection from Jim Hancock + thetinycompanycalledme.com that includes free and low-cost Crisis HelpSheets on...
….with more in the pipeline, coming soon.

Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers aren’t everything — they’re not, for example, legal or medical advice, or counseling manuals. What they are, is an answer to the question, "What do I say to the parent who's bringing her kid to talk with me this afternoon about bullying, self-harm, sexual abuse, suicide…."

Rage is the newest Crisis HelpSheet for Youth Workers. Drop by thetinycompanycalledme and pick up your copy — or send a youth worker friend who could use some help figuring out what to do when people are in a tough spot.


Jim Hancock

PS: Stay tuned for more Crisis HelpSheets in the months ahead.... 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers

A dozen years ago, Rich Van Pelt + I literally wrote the book on youth workers helping teenagers in crisis. It's called  The Youth Worker’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis. It’s still available at Amazon + Zondervan.

What’s been missing is quick reference guides — one-pagers — on what to do when a teenager has been sexually abused … or bullied … or hazed … or neglected … or….

So, reflecting new experiences + ongoing research in crisis response, I’m rolling out a line of Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers at thetinycompanycalledme.com.

So far, there are 10 Crisis HelpSheets.
1. Asking Good Questions
2. Bullying
3. Confidentiality
4. Cutting + Self-Harm
5. Hazing
6. Sexual Abuse
7. Referral | Getting Professional Help
8. Reporting Abuse + Neglect
9. Suicide + Homicide Threat
10. Traumatic Events
Look for more in the pipeline in the months ahead.

For the record: Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers offer good-faith practices based on four decades of engagement with youth workers, teenagers + families in crisis — plus a lot of work to stay current on the research. I don’t offer medical or legal advice — I am not licensed in either field.

Crisis HelpSheets for Youth Workers are inexpensive — a handful are free; the rest are just $2 each.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Free for One Day | Under the Moon + Stars [feat. Mark Yaconelli] | Jan 05, 2018

Free for One Day: Under the Moon + Stars [feat. Mark Yaconelli]

I'm giving away a some free stuff this week, because I can … and because my problem is not piracy, my problem is obscurity (h/t Cory Doctorow).

Mark Yaconelli is one of the best storytellers I know.
Under the Moon + Stars is a story Mark told one afternoon while we were talking about the sort of people who help other people grow up. If the wind is favorable, that help comes when we’re kids. If not, it comes later, when our paths cross with people like Mark. 

This little movie is about listening to people, and encouraging folks to listen to their own lives for clues about where they might go in light of where they’ve been.

If you’re a teacher, a preacher, a youth worker, or a parent, you can use this short film to 
  • illustrate a talk or lesson
  • start a conversation in a small group
  • engage the group that gathers around your kitchen table.

Feel free to invite your neighbors, friends + other loved ones.

Happy New Year, 

Jim Hancock 

PS: January 06, the price reverts to $5.99.

PPS: Stay tuned for a little more free stuff soon.... 

Monday, January 01, 2018

Free for One Day | 10 Things We Should Never Say to Kids | January 02, 2018

I'm giving away a some free stuff this week, because I can … and because my problem is not piracy, my problem is obscurity (h/t Cory Doctorow).

The Free stuff on January 02, 2018 is a copy of 10 Things We Should Never Say to Kids.

Here are the 10 Things We Should Never Say to Kids:
1. Do You Have Your Jacket-Homework-Gym-Bag-Back-Pack-Ticket-Keys?
2. What Were You Thinking!
3. Because I Said So.
4. You Are Such a Pretty Little Thing.
5. I’m Proud of You!
6. You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To.
7. Let Me Tell You What Happened Here.
8. That’s Not How You Do It!
9. Don’t Make Me Turn This Car Around.
10. I Give Up.
Are these the absolute worst things we can say to a child? Of course not. What qualifies these 10 things for my list is:
1st — kids hear these things all the time 
2nd — these things drive kids a little nuts, even if they don’t know it
Finally — these things sound plausible (+ kids don’t know better) 
This little book is about not saying those 10 things — and what to say instead
January 03, the price reverts to $5.99.
Feel free to invite your neighbors, friends + other loved ones to grab a free copy. 
Shake things up this year … start a book club … shock your children…. Happy New Year.