Take the Creator out of His creation and you breed a generation of youth without hope and purpose. The statistics show this is the case:
A report about the Australian situation only confirms what is very obvious to many involved with children and families in our society.
Professor Patrick Parkinson AM (a Professor of Law at the University of Sydney) in his report, “For Kid’s Sake – Repairing the Social Environment for Australian Children and Young People”, presented in 2011, makes this point “Rightly we are thinking about what legacy we are going to leave our children, and their children, in terms of the natural world on which we all depend”. (p6).
Professor Parkinson notes, “Little attention has been paid to the social environment in which our children are growing up, and the dangers that the deterioration of this environment presents for the future. Indeed, many of us may not even be aware of how bad things are becoming.” (p6)
This was demonstrated in the “canary in the coalmine” data found in the Parkinson report, that show from 1997 to 2009 the total number of children in out-of-home care has more than doubled, from 15,674 to 35,895 and increasing at an ever increasing rate. (p7)
More than 25% of young people aged 16-24 have a mental disorder. A further 24% of young people, who have never experienced a mental disorder, are experiencing moderate to severe psychological distress. (p7)
The psychological distress is reflected in the 66% increase in the number of 12-14-year-old children hospitalised because of intentional self-harm from 1996 to 2006. In the same period there was a 90% rise in hospitalisation of girls 15 to 17 years of age due to self-harm incidents. (p7)
Other manifestations of psychological distress include binge drinking and sexual promiscuity. The rate of hospitalisation due to alcohol intoxication in young women 15-24 years of age more than doubled between 1998 and 2006. (p8)
In the last ten years there was a four-fold increase in chlamydia infections in the 10-14-year age group. Girls reporting unwanted sex increased from 28 to 38 per cent from 2002 to 2008 (p35).
“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next”. Abraham Lincoln 16th President of America made this statement and it is being proved true there. The nation is turning its back on God since an evolution based humanist, materialistic, secular curriculum was introduced to classrooms.
Our education system is committed to secular humanism which can be understood as a belief system that disregards the existence of anything beyond the physical here and now and supports an ethical system based on consequences, rather than on a set of principles as part of an external belief system (Flynn, n.d.). This framework influences how relevant research is referenced.
For example, a recent report published by Theos, an English academic think tank notes that evidence ( http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/ ) from nearly 140 academic studies conducted over the last three decades examining the relationship between religion and well-being in a wide range of countries and contexts, suggests that overall, holding a religious worldview contributes positively to a person’s well being (Spencer et al, 2016). This position is also supported from research by the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2002).
Institute for American Values: Report by Commission for Children at Risk – a panel of 33 leading children’s doctors, research scientists and youth service professionals:
To date the influence of religion on U.S. young people has been “grossly understudied”, according to Byron Johnson of the University of Pennsylvania. However, existing research is highly suggestive. For adolescents, religiosity is significantly associated with a reduced likelihood of both unintentional and intentional injury ( homicides, suicides and accidents account for 85 percent of all deaths among early to late adolescents). Religious teenagers are safer drivers and are more likely to wear seat belts than their less religious peers. They are less likely to become juvenile delinquents or adult criminals. They are less prone to substance abuse. They are less likely to endorse engaging in high-risk behaviour or the idea of enjoying danger.
On the positive side of the coin, religiously committed teenagers are more likely to volunteer in the community, to participate in sports and student government, to have high self-esteem and more positive attitudes about life. Much of this research is based on large national studies.
One religious quality that appears to be especially beneficial, in terms of mental health and lifestyle consequences, is what some scholars call personal devotion, or the young person’s sense of participating in a “direct personal relationship with the Divine”. Personal devotion among adolescents is associated with reduced risk-taking, more effectively resolving feelings of loneliness, greater regard for self and for others, and a stronger sense that life has meaning and purpose. These protective effects of personal devotion are twice as great for adolescents as they are for adults. This last finding clearly reinforces the idea; found in many cross-national studies, that adolescence is a time of particularly intense searching for, and openness to, the transcendent. Here is how Lisa Miller of Columbia University puts it: “A search for spiritual relationship with the Creator may be an inherent developmental process in adolescence.”
For this reason, the Commission is recommending that our society as a whole, and youth advocates and youth service professionals in particular, should pay greater attention to this aspect of youth development. This task will not be easy, the Commission’s warns in its report. Because we are a philosophically diverse and religiously plural society, many of our youth-serving programs and social environments for young people will need to find ways respectfully to reflect that diversity and pluralism. But that is a challenge to be embraced, not avoided. One of the many problems with the avoidance strategy is that denying or ignoring the spiritual needs of adolescents may end up creating a void in their lives that either devolves into depression or is filled by other forms of questing and challenge, such as drinking, unbridled consumerism, petty crime, sexual precocity, or flirtations with violence.
The research would indicate that the well being of our children depends in large part on them developing a healthy, others’ focused spirituality, a spirituality that has been traditionally found in communities of faith. A faith that offers them hope, not only now, but for eternity.
For Australia, many of these have been Christian communities of faith. Maybe it’s time to take note of what the broader research is saying and consider the important place that Christianity has played and might continue to play in shaping the social environment in which our children are growing up.
I suggest you view some of the resources that outline the contribution that Christianity has played and continues to play in the lives of everyday Australians. Go to www.diduno.info to view these free resources.