View from the Edge

Posted on: 10/16/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Some of you might have caught the exclusive excerpt of my new book I posted on our parents site last week. The following is ANOTHER excerpt from the first chapter of my brand new book, The Bullying Breakthrough, releasing this month…  the first book where I finally tell my story…

Chapter 1: View from the Edge

“Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

We’ve all heard it. We all had teachers who reiterated it. “…word will never hurt me.”

Complete foolishness.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I probably don’t even need to give you thirteen reasons why.

Anyone who has been mocked or victimized will tell you nothing is more crushing or more demoralizing. Speaking completely candidly, I’d rather get beaten senseless than become the victim of public humiliation—and sadly, I’ve been there.

That’s the intriguing thing about bullying. I’ve read countless articles and studies, heard theories from known psychologists. I’ve attended assemblies and conferences about bullying. . . almost always by someone who hasn’t been bullied.

They don’t know.

They really don’t.

I grew up five minutes from the American River Parkway, a beautiful recreation area where the American River glides 120 miles from the Sierra Nevada Mountains down to the Sacramento River. One of the trails we took as kids would bring us to the edge of a cliff 120 feet high overlooking the north side of the river. Sacramento residents call it “The Bluffs.” A romantic lookout for many, but for me, a location where I would contemplate taking my own life.

When I was sixteen years old I stood at the edge of that cliff staring down at the rocks below.

I can’t tell you what was unique about this particular day. I honestly had experienced hundreds of days like this, especially years prior in middle school, being mocked, pushed around, and demoralized while my classmates looked on with laughter or passive approval.

I don’t blame them. You had only three choices: laugh, ignore, or say something. Those who spoke up would only be next. . .so everyone chose either laughter or silence. Literally everyone.

No one every spoke up.

I probably couldn’t have put words to what I was feeling standing on that ledge: loneliness, hurt. . .a longing for someone who understood? Most of the people in my life didn’t even know what went on at my school every day. It’s not their fault; I never really shared the experiences. If I did, I most likely wouldn’t have even used the word bullying, because in my mind bullying was a big kid cornering a little kid and stealing his lunch money. My aggressors weren’t big kids. They weren’t even all male. My aggressors came in all shapes and sizes. But what I was experiencing was actually textbook bullying.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines bullying as“any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.”

“Perceived power imbalance”—a good word choice. Kids don’t have a positive concept of “self,” so they try to make themselves feel better by hurling verbal onslaughts at others. That’s an accurate description of what my peers did to me each day. I was an easy target, so I became a stepping-stone others used to raise themselves up so they could feel more powerful.

“Repeated multiple times”—also accurate. For me it was daily in middle school, at least weekly in high school. Certain environments seemed to foster it more than others, none more so than PE class.

That particular day began with gym class, physical education, or PE as our school called it. PE is a cruel requirement for nonathletes, something the physically fit will never understand. PE is where the weak get intimidated by the strong. PE is where small boys get hung by their underwear or slapped in the back of the legs while bystanders laugh hysterically.

That morning in PE a popular kid had said something cruel. I don’t remember the exact exchange, but knowing me, I probably retaliated with a quick verbal jab. I had developed a quick wit over the years. I had plenty of experience defending myself.

But this kid wasn’t going to tolerate any banter. He hit me hard in the jaw. I can still hear the cackles from the crowd and feel the stares of those who quickly circled around. Funny, I don’t recall the physical pain of the hit.

More words were exchanged. I had two choices: fight or back down. I chose back down.

Social suicide.

Names were called—cruel names that are difficult even to put into print.

“Pu**y!”

“Fag!”

I was neither, but it didn’t matter.

Threats were made. “You’d better watch your back!”

He meant it. And he was right. This altercation had triggered a social seismic shift, and there were aftershocks. You see, once someone is publicly humiliated, the victim bears an invisible Kick Me sign on his back.For the rest of the day I endured shoves, jeers, and cruel whispers from kids I had never even met. Other kids with low self-esteem jumped on the opportunity to step up a notch on the social ladder by lowering someone else a rung.

I don’t know why this particular day pushed me over the tipping point, since I had experienced many other days like it. Regardless, six hours after the original jab, I stood at the edge of the cliff looking down at the rocks.

Should I jump?

I wanted to jump. I really wanted to, honestly, for selfish reasons.

I’ll show them.

They’ll regret everything they ever said!


Author Josh McDowell calls The Bullying Breakthrough “Jonathan’s most vulnerable and insightful book yet! An eye-opening peek into the world of bullying today and what we can actually do to prevent it.”

Social researcher Shaunti Feldhahn claims this is “Jonathan’s most important book so far,” describing it as “an essential guide to preventing and stopping bullying behaviors.”

The Bullying Breakthrough is available for PRE-ORDER on Amazon right now and will be releasing this month! Order your copy now!

What Advice Do Today’s Teen Guys Really Need?

Posted on: 09/5/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m neck deep writing my newest book to young men… and I’d love your advice?

And here’s what I want to know:

What advice do you think today’s young men need more than anything else?

Every time I speak at leadership event for today’s young people I notice something overwhelmingly obvious: the ratio of guys to girls.

Can you guess what it is?

I’ll put it this way. If there were 100 student leaders in a room, then 80 of them would be girls.

As thrilled as I am for girls (and for my two daughters), I mourn for today’s young men. Why is it that young men aren’t rising up to the challenge? What’s distracting them?

Many of you have seen my first Guy’s Guide book, a book with 101 real world tips for today’s teenage guys- The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket.  For some reason this particular book has struck a chord with readers– it’s by far my best seller. Maybe because it’s hitting such a huge need.

That’s why we decided to do a second book in the series to guys (and yes, I have one for girls AND guys HERE). In this one, we’re going to specifically target some of the biggest pressures, temptations and distractions young men face today. The working title is:

The Guy’s Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Fight

We’re going to address these four areas: self image, substances, sex, and screens.

With that in mind… what would you like to see in this book? Use the comments below, and if you like, start with these words:

“I’d like to see you address…”

If Dr. Seuss was in youth ministry

Posted on: 08/30/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Earlier this week I was looking through the archives of the articles I wrote to youth workers back in the days… really fun looking through it all. I found this little gem from April of 2005 (I had totally forgotten about this). It gives you a glimpse of the type of kids I worked with… NOT very politically correct, mind you (apparently the filter was completely off back then).

WHAT IF DR. SEUSS HAD CHAPERONED ONE OF YOUR
YOUTH MINISTRY EVENTS?

One kid, two kid,
old kid, new kid.
Flabby kid, toned kid,
clean kid, stoned kid Continue reading “If Dr. Seuss was in youth ministry” »

Remember when we looked like this?

Posted on: 08/28/18 11:18 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Remember when we looked like this?

We’ve been revamping this thing for years! And hold on to your hats… because it’s about to get even better.

In the next couple weeks you all are going to see some welcome changes around here. Many of you have noticed that both my blog and TheSource4Parents.com have both been completely revamped: mobile friendly, new content at the forefront, much easier to navigate. Well the youth ministry site is about to get the same revamp (longtime needed)… Continue reading “Remember when we looked like this?” »

Helping leaders reach LGBTQ youth

Posted on: 05/14/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you have heard the buzz… I mentioned it in my blog once prior… I talked about it on Facebook… and now it’s official. It’s happening in California November 2nd and 3rd:

Sean, Greg and I have been hearing the same questions from pastors and youth workers over the last year:

“What do I say to the kids in my youth group who say they’re ‘pan’ and the student who identifies as a different gender?”

“How can I Continue reading “Helping leaders reach LGBTQ youth” »

Four conversations parents must have

Posted on: 04/17/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

As requests are coming in for speaking this fall, I wanted to let you know about a new workshop I’m launching… FOUR CONVERSATIONS! It’s the first parent workshop I’m doing where I have parents and kids in the same room!

Right now my go-to workshop for parents is PARENTING THE SMARTPHONE GENERATION… I taught this workshop in almost 30 churches in the U.S. last year Continue reading “Four conversations parents must have” »

Do you want to screen my new book?

Posted on: 04/3/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you know I’ve been buried in bullying for the last few months, polling kids, listening to stories, dialoguing with counselors… all for my next book, The Bullying Breakthrough.

Would you like to take a peek at it?

Here’s the deal: I’ve got two weeks before I turn this manuscript in to my publisher and I’d love your feedback. That means you’d have about a week to read as much as you want and let me know your thoughts.

Want in?

Email me at jon@thesource4ym.com and just tell me, “I want in!”

I’ll give free copies of the book to all the people who read the whole thing and give me feedback.

Most Popular Posts of 2017

Posted on: 12/26/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I can’t always predict which of my articles will resonate with you all as readers—some of these caught me by surprise. But here are the top 10 trafficked blog posts you guys read this year. (Can you guess which one was No. 1?)

10. Here’s my sex talk
A complete script of my newest sex talk to young people

9. The rise of the non-believing Millennial
Pew Research provides a current breakdown of faith among today’s generations

8. Teen summer bucket list goes viral
A glimpse at a teens summer bucket list and what it reveals about our culture

7. Where kids actually adopt their values
In a world where kids are exposed to an increasing amount of lies, how can we teach truth?

6. Porn in plain sight
Dissecting Snapchat stories Continue reading “Most Popular Posts of 2017” »

Answering top questions from today’s parents PART I

Posted on: 11/14/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The questions began rolling in…

What age do you recommend giving our kids phones?

What is the easiest way to monitor a child’s online safety?

What are the dangers of the app Musical.ly?

These are just a few of the countless questions I just received from parents… and in the next three days I’m going to answer all of them in this blog. Each day I’m going to narrow it down to the top 10 Continue reading “Answering top questions from today’s parents PART I” »

Police Detective Interviews Me About Teen’s Most Pressing Risks

Posted on: 10/9/17 11:31 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This summer my friend Sean McDowell introduced me to a police detective at a recent conference we all spoke at, and the three of us got a chance to hang out and talk about engaging young people in today’s culture, and what that actually looks like. Fascinating conversation.

His name is J. Warner Wallace. He’s a homicide detective who cares about young people and wants them to know the truth in a world overflowing with lies. He’s written several books and speaks nationwide.

Jim (that’s his real name) read my new book to teens about wise posting in an insecure world, and interviewed me about the risks young people are taking with their devices Continue reading “Police Detective Interviews Me About Teen’s Most Pressing Risks” »