My two cents
The transition struggles youth experience graduating into middle school, high school and college in the hyper-connected world amplify any confusion or self doubt a person might have. The most important thing a parent can do for a child going through the struggles of life’s transitions is to express the spiritual wisdom of their chosen faith. As an American with a heart for Jesus Christ, it is my desire to be the face of Christ that communicates the confidence of God’s promises in all circumstances – especially when my children are suffering.
Below is a reprint from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner article about recognizing the risks of major campus transitions.
Tuesday evening, St. Joseph Marello Catholic Church (SJM) in Granite Bay hosted a parent training on how to help youth through the transitions to middle school, high school and college. Bob Lyons, Ed.D, Director of Technology for Nevada Joint Union High School District, offered insights about the risk factors for youth transitioning from to middle school, high school and college.
“We know that the pre-frontal cortex [executive function] of the young brain is still developing,” Lyon’s said, “So these transition times are also times of trying different things.” And with every transition there is a new student body and the struggle to find your identity and fit in takes on new challenges. “Moral development happens as youth handle themselves in situations where they don’t believe anyone is watching, or knows who they are,” he said.
In their cyber-powered friend communities, youth can easily allow their peer communities to become a single-point of reference for life (which places their trust in people, rather than in their faith in God), and the risk factors below can take on a greater significance – especially with regard to bullying and depression. According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, 22% of youth have reported being bullied over the past school year and according to Lyons up to 20% of youth experience depression by the age of 18.
See related: Anxiety in the network culture: Restoring the brain
The transition into new school communities can leave some kids feeling completely isolated. “Some kids in high school go through the entire day on campus and no one talks to them,” Lyons said. “And in college the chances are greater that your child may have issues adjusting to the dynamics of the new social environment. Check the attrition rate for the college campus,” he said.
Below are the risk factors for transitions to middle school and high school:
- Low peer acceptance, few friends, low quality friendships
- Friendship losses
- Parent education levels, parental expectations and involvement
- Academic challenges and achievement loss
- Exposure to drug and alcohol culture as the norm
In college the risk factors impacting mental health look like this:
- Preoccupation with their pre-college friendships, experienced a more difficult transition to college
- Distance from home, living arrangements, and attending a school with a friend affect magnitude of change in students’ experiences
- No involvement in campus life
- Drug and alcohol exposure, even if your child didn’t drink in high school
It is true that the wrong thinking and the right circumstances can lead to risky choices, relationships and behavior. Accordingly, Lyons featured the following resiliency skills for handling the challenges of school community transitions:
- Strengths such as perseverance, fairness, gratitude, honesty, hope, and perspective, empathy, sensitivity and friendship skills
- Clear family boundaries (tied to your beliefs and values)
- Social competencies e.g. resistance to peer pressure
- Positive identity
- Commitment to learning
As the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner, my personal mission is to educate and inspire parents from all walks of life and social settings to realize their inherent authority to govern the home and educate the child about their own power; the personal power that comes from the spiritual resilience of your chosen faith. And so I write for Examiner.com to express the passion of my mother heart to a diverse audience.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.