Jonathan's Answers to Tough Questions
This past week it was drawn to my attention that two teens had taken a pregnancy test. What do you suggest on approaching this issue. My concern is that I promise confidentiality with my teens. But what happens if they do end up pregnant. The parents might be upset that I knew they were sexually involved but didn't say anything. But I might lose trust in the teens and will close the doors for ministry. I like to do one on one ministry when it comes to issues such as this. Help!
Wow, that's a tough one.
Yes- you're right- you do want to handle this one-on-one and yes- you're right- you probably need to tell the parents. So the real question is, how do you do both?
Before I answer this I need to address something you said. You said you "promise confidentiality." You might want to be clearer to students with that one in the future. Even most students understand that if they tell you about a murder or abuse- you have to tell the proper authorities. You might want to also let them know that as a "shepherd" of the church, there are certain extreme cases in which, for their own good, you might have to tell their parents. This is good for students to know up front. They'll actually appreciate your honesty when you keep your word.
Now- what to do to solve this situation:
First . . . PRAY. Don't do this alone. Do this with His guidance.
Then go to the kid or kids and confront them with it. If this is a couple that you need to confront, you should confront the girl and have one of your able guy staff or pastors confront the guy. This needs to be done with compassion and love. The last thing you want is them to feel threatened or judged. Note how Jesus came to the aid of adulteress or sinful women in John 4, John 8, and Luke 7. Read over these passages when you're praying and preparing for this.
Then I would give them the opportunity to tell their parents. Maybe you can say that you heard about the incident- and because you did, it's your job to tell their mom. But because you respect them, you wanted to talk to them first and give them the opportunity to talk with their mom.
The thing that's hard with this situation is that the initial reaction probably won't be good. They'll probably try anything to get you to back down. They might be very angry. You'll have to stick to your guns and help them through it- even if they're mad.
THEN, that's where you can PROVE that you really care. Regardless of their reaction, follow up with them. After the incident, you and your male staff each offer to take them out for a milkshake. Write them a card, telling them that you are there for them if they need it. They might be mad for a while, but in my experience, these are the kids that will come back to you later because they will respect your consistency. Consistency is a nice thing in such an inconsistent world.
Please let me know how it goes.
Keep up the good work!