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!

Helping Teens Press Pause

Posted on: 06/12/18 1:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Whenever I talk with young people about their mobile devices I ask, “How many of you think people are spending too much time staring at their devices?” An overwhelming majority of hands will go up.

Yet if you followed those same teens for 24 hours, you’d probably catch them “spending too much time staring at their devices.” (And before we start labeling anyone hypocritical… adults are in the same boat).

Let’s review. Teens are aware that phones monopolize too much of their time, but they aren’t really doing much about it.

So why not Continue reading “Helping Teens Press Pause” »

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” »

Lil Dicky gets a lil raunchy (and how parents should respond)

Posted on: 04/10/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The song debuted in the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The music video is full of celebrity cameos and has already garnered over 100 million views. When I mentioned that particular song speaking at a church last Sunday morning, teens in the audience literally shouted, “Yeah!” in acclamation (and I mentioned about a dozen songs).

I’m talking about the brand new racy music video from Lil Dicky, Freaky Friday, where Lil Dicky wakes up as Chris Brown and Chris Brown as Lil Dicky. The music video is creative, kids think it’s hilarious, and it’s full of sexual references and imagery. Continue reading “Lil Dicky gets a lil raunchy (and how parents should respond)” »

Where to Get Practical Parenting Help

Posted on: 02/6/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In two hours (at 9AM Pacific time) several thousand parents will receive our FREE “Parenting Help” email which always contains three helpful resources for today’s parents. Take a peek… because you might want to make sure this helpful resource is hitting your inbox twice a month:

  1. This “Parenting Help” email always includes our newest “Parenting Help” article, like the one I just wrote with three tools to engage your kids to not only remove their headphones… but tune you in. I always write these articles based on the biggest questions I’m hearing from parents online and at my parent workshops. We have an entire page of these articles that hopefully do exactly what the title implies… “help parents” with practical tools they need. Look at the last five articles I’ve written Continue reading “Where to Get Practical Parenting Help” »

Mom, Is Justin Bieber a Christian?

Posted on: 01/9/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s a question kids are asking, and a question Moms don’t quite know how to answer.

Similar to the question, “Mom, is Chance the Rapper a Christian?” …you can’t help but wonder, who am I to even answer that question?

But it’s being asked.

Maybe we’re confused because we’ve read about Justin’s troubles with the law (from 2014 granted) or heard him singing and collaborating on some pretty worldly tracks (okay, maybe that’s a little more recent)… and then moments later we see him unashamedly dancing to worship music or posting a powerful Instagram post praising Jesus for “changing me from the inside out.” Continue reading “Mom, Is Justin Bieber a Christian?” »

Answering top questions from today’s parents PART III

Posted on: 11/16/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In PART I and PART II of this series we already tackled some of the big questions today’s parents are asking…

How do I regulate screen time with a high functioning autistic kid?

When your kids push you away and go silent, how do you reconnect?

Is there a way to receive your kids’ texts directly on your device?

These are just a few of the countless questions I just received from parents… and for three days I’ve been answering them in this blog. Each day I’m narrowing it down to the top 10.

Here are the final 10 answers to the last 10 questions… Continue reading “Answering top questions from today’s parents PART III” »

Answering top questions from today’s parents PART II

Posted on: 11/15/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Yesterday we already tackled some of the big ones…

What age do you recommend allowing children on social media?

Is there a way to filter the stories on SnapChat?

How do you prevent sexting?

These are just a few of the countless questions I just received from parents… and for 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. (See yesterday’s 10 answers HERE.)

Here are today’s 10 answers to 10 questions… Continue reading “Answering top questions from today’s parents PART II” »

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” »

Guns, Drama, and Poor Conflict Resolution Skills

Posted on: 11/7/17 6:56 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s always interesting when people search for the “why” behind shootings and acts of violence (much like the why behind spikes in anxiety and depression). People are always looking for someone to blame.

It’s those violent video games.

It’s Quentin Tarantino movies!

It’s the second amendment.

If only it were that simple. I think most experts would agree it’s often an amalgamation of these elements. With shootings, the typical profile is a white male, 25 to 45, military background, tumultuous relationship with his mother… but not always Continue reading “Guns, Drama, and Poor Conflict Resolution Skills” »