A study released in the journal Developmental Psychology last year found that these people who were bullied as children were about 2.5 times more likely as others to be clinically depressed as young adults.
Being bullied (over the time period of the study) and a low level of support from others boosted the risk that the teens would become suicidal. Bullying also boosted the risk that they would try to harm themselves. Over the 2.5-year study, slightly more than 15 percent of the people in the survey reported trying to harm themselves.
I think every youth ministry should be a safe place for all types of teenagers to explore a relationship with Christ. As the stories of bullying-induced suicides and research mounts, a common denominator is that these students didn’t have a support system of adults who were truly listening, truly seeking to understand, and helping them process the taunts and physical abuse they were taking.
However, those who had social support — “support from family and peers, meaning that the young person would say they have someone to go to when they have a tough time, someone is looking out for them” — were less likely to be suicidal, Mustanski added. (Same source as above)
Looking for a resource to help you create an environment where all students are safe to grow in their relationship with Jesus? Check out a resource I helped put together with Andrew Marin & Ginny Olson, Love is an Orientation DVD: Practical Ways to Build Bridges with the Gay Community. Sure, that’s shameless self-promotion. But I haven’t seen anything else out there that gets this practical about issues like:
- Developmental issues with LGBT teens
- Creating a safe environment
- Addressing bullying in your ministry
- And a lot more…