We Eat Our Young

Hamster cannibalism is not uncommon. When a hamster gives birth, she may feel pushed to eat some or all of the new pups. This may be a response to lack of resources (like food, space, or protein), fear of a perceived threat, or some type of confusion.


Humans eat their young, too. 

Two stories about teenagers came on the radio today while Megan and I drove to school.

Story One

IRVING — Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday.

Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed’s circuit-stuffed pencil case.

So a kid does something really cool, that few teenagers could do, makes his own stuff… brings it in to school to proudly show off to his teacher… and gets arrested.

It’s outrageous. 

A student is smart and gets arrested because administrators don’t see him as smart, they see him as a threat.

How can you say you love teenagers, dedicate your life to youth ministry, and NOT be outraged by that?

Story Two

Somewhere else during Morning Edition there was a story that started out like this, “He was on his way to school, running late– because you know, he’s a teenagers– and when he got there…

I looked at Megan, ourselves pushing hard to get to school on time, and said “Because you know, all teenagers, all 46 million of them, are late all the time because you know… they are teenagers.

The Bias Against Teenagers

It’s hard to listen to media bias against teenagers when your 9th grade daughter is sitting next to you. Megan is amazing in so many ways… her friends are, too… and yet two stories in short sequence paint a picture of adolescents as sub-human buffoons who are destined to fail.

So I turned off the radio and we had a great conversation that started like this, “In the media, teenagers are incapbale until they aren’t. They are either idiots who can’t do anything right or they win 6 gold medals… but the fact is most teenagers are just like most adults. But you never hear that because it doesn’t sell.” 

The Need for Allies

As youth workers we know that these bias exist and yet we are largely silent. An incident like this happens in suburban Dallas and you are left to wonder… “Where are the youth ministry people? Why the silence?

It makes me wonder… What would it look like if youth ministry were good news to teenagers?

  • What would happen if you were an advocate for the teenagers in your life?
  • What would it look like to correct a bias when you hear it?
  • What would it look like if people saw you and thought to themselves… “I better not talk crap about teenagers around that lady, she’s CRAZY about teenagers.”
  • What would happen if teenagers in the community looked to you as an advocate?
  • What is possible when the teenagers in your community knew you had their back, that you’d step up for them, that you’d leverage your voice and power for them?

Friends, we are not hamsters. We are humans made in the image of God. Teenagers are made in God’s images.

My daughter needs more advocates. Our daughters need advocates. God’s children need allies to stand up against a culture that eats it’s young, that leaves them feeling terrible about their status, that reminds them every day in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that if they don’t climb Mount Everest they are a complete failure.

May it never be true!

When a teenager is maligned in the media, so is the image of God.


Ally yourself with your tribe.

Leverage your power and voice for the people that you say you serve.

And when you do? Stand back and watch what God can do.






3 responses to “We Eat Our Young”

  1. titusjbenton Avatar

    Thanks, Adam. Good stuff. I’m going to do some speaking up right now, I do believe. Keep up the great work, man! Always appreciate your take.

  2. rebekahbled Avatar

    This is wonderful. Thank you so much.

  3. […] Here’s a post from a youth minister that talks about how we view teenagers, and what might happen if we view them differently. It’s worth a read. […]

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