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The Long and Lonely Road

The journey of adolescence for young people today is longer and lonelier than ever before

Adolescence takes twice the amount of time it once did. Puberty today begins five years earlier than it did a century ago and the social markers of adulthood (career, marriage, home ownership) are taking place much later.

Adolescence is also lonelier. Parents are struggling and there are fewer places young people can go for support. 70% of young people feel as if they are meant to fix their problems on their own.

As a result, young people today feel abandoned.

This journey presents very real risks

Bullying: one in four young people are bullied.

Anxiety and depression: two out of three are stressed about school. One in 16 are depressed.

Substance abuse: five young people die each week as a result of alcohol abuse.

Suicide: suicide is the leading cause of death for young people, consisting of 35% of male deaths and 25% of female deaths.

While adolescence is hard for every generation, the long and lonely road that young people face today presents risks to their physical and mental health, and, in some instances, even their lives.

* Statistics accurate as of 2017

The long and lonely road of adolescence is also a challenge for church communities and youth leaders

How has The Salvation Army tried to support struggling young people?

Many church communities today do not know how to reach out to young people. 36% of our corps do not have any teens in attendance.

Even the church communities that do engage young people are not supporting them in the right ways. Because of this, 70% of Christian young people drop out from church before they are 30.

Many churches don’t know how to reach out to young people and many lose the ones they have. Church communities can often find it hard to engage young people in the long-term and give up.

As a result, 90% of young people in Australia don’t attend church at all.

How can church communities and youth workers respond to this challenge?

We can support young people on this journey if we choose to walk it with them.

To walk with young people, we must be where they are.
We do this by reaching them in their own places and in their own culture.

We must be with them.
We do this by getting to know them, caring for them, and being a good example.

We must be like a family.
We do this by making our communities somewhere that they feel welcome and they want to belong.

To walk with young people is to help them follow Jesus

In all of this, we must talk to young people about what Jesus means in their lives and make opportunities to put this faith into action. When we follow Jesus together and reflect on the experience, we help young people develop a faith that makes a difference in their lives and in the world.

The journey of adolescence for young people today is long and lonely. The good news is that we can support young people if we work together and come alongside them on this journey.

Adolescence is a long and lonely road

Walk it with them.

For more information, download the report below.

Download the report