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1. The Trouble Inside

What it is: Inpatient mental health facilities for young people are coming under scrutiny for  prioritizing profits and possibly harming teens in the process.
Why it’s getting so much attention: Celebrity heiress Paris Hilton stayed in one such facility  during her teen years and now says she suffered physical, mental, and sexual abuse at the hands of staffers. She now advocates for the facility she stayed in to be permanently closed. As the teen mental health crisis continues in the US, some parents are desperate to find help that will keep their kids safe. These types of facilities can seem like the answer for teens whose conditions require close, constant supervision. But as the New York Times points out, federal regulation of inpatient care facilities remains lax, even as demand for them increases. This makes for a situation rife for patient rights violations.

2. Plot Twisted

What it is: Viewers of a new Netflix movie say they were shocked by graphic depictions of sexual assault and a high school shooting shown in the film.
Why it’s made audiences upset: Luckiest Girl Alive is an adaptation of a 2015 novel by the same name, and it starts off almost like any dime-a-dozen rom-com. Mila Kunis stars as Ani, an ambitious young woman in New York City with a wealthy fiance. Ani aspires to move from working for glossies to writing with gravitas. But as the movie progresses, revelations into Ani’s past grow progressively darker and the vibe gets more Gone Girl than Gossip Girl. The movie is trending #1 on Netflix after premiering on September 30, but many have taken to social media to call for a trigger warning and a more accurate synopsis, saying that they felt hoodwinked by the thriller’s intensity and violence. Parents should know that Ani relives trauma after trauma on screen throughout the film, and that the plot’s central focus is a high school gang rape.

3. An Opened Book

What it is: Barna’s survey of 25,000 teens around the world revealed that many of today’s biblically engaged teens see the Bible as a justice manual.
Why it’s different: According to the results of this massive survey, teens who Barna classifies as “justice-motivated” say the Bible is their impetus for standing up for what’s right, promoting fairness and justice, making a positive impact on others’ lives, and taking care of people who need help. The majority of teens who described themselves as “justice-oriented” or “justice-motivated” said that Jesus provides a model for justice, and 58 percent of teens who identified as committed Christians said the Bible addresses injustice. Today’s teens are especially dedicated to activism, righting wrongs, and championing equality for marginalized groups, so the fact that they see the Bible as source material for that kind of work is a signal that they’re taking scripture seriously.

Song of the Week

“Sunroof” by Nick Youre and dazy: landing at number 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 this week and with 8.4 million videos on TikTok, this poppy and upbeat song evokes summertime and young love. The song is an undoubtedly catchy and surprisingly sweet tune about someone who can’t take their mind off the person of their dreams. In a lineup of popular songs that seem to all be about broken relationships, “Sunroof” is a lighthearted relief and a welcome addition. For the song’s full lyrics, click here.

Translation: An Opened Book

In 2000, American cultural theorist Eric Gans introduced a social theory called postmillennialism, or post-postmodernism. The idea of the theory is that the generation arising after the millennium have flipped the script on the victim mentality of the previous generation. Instead, this generation — Gen Z — chooses not to use victimization rhetoric and instead see themselves as able to overcome difficulty and produce positive change. The results of Barna’s global survey would seem to indicate that the predictions of this theory, at least in some part, are coming to pass. Teens who identify as Christians, and teens who don’t, expressed a belief that their generation has the ability to have a positive impact on the world.

Perhaps the most exciting thing the Barna survey shows us is that teens are seeing and believing in the heart of Jesus for the needy and the disenfranchised.  They say they feel motivated by the Bible to fight for justice for those people. They view Jesus as a radical figure with a style that disrupted the status quo. These are qualities that appeal to the activist generation as admirable and worth imitating. Jesus not only accepted but encouraged and elevated the poor, the sick, the women, the social outcasts , and many others that society at the time overlooked. He embraced the marginalized in a way that was, and still is, revolutionary.

In his book Gentle and Lowly, Pastor Dane Ortland says this of Jesus’ character and attitude towards those who needed him: “This high and holy Christ does not cringe at reaching out and touching dirty sinners and numbed sufferers. Such embrace is precisely what he loves to do. He cannot bear to hold back.” Teens grounded in Scripture who love the lost will see their own desire to reach out to the marginalized as one inspired by the person of Christ himself. Their pursuit of  justice should inspire us all to see the just Lord for who he is—Defender of the weak, Savior of the lost, and Rescuer for all who come to him in need.

Questions to spark conversations with your teens:

  • Do you believe that you can have a positive impact on the world? How?
  • Do you see the Bible and Jesus’ ministry as a call to justice?
  • How can you model Jesus’ desire for justice in your own life?