How to confront a student

This recently came up in our youth ministry and forced me to think through it rather quickly. What’s the best procedure for confronting a student who’s involved in something dangerous, criminal, or very inappropriate? Here’s what came to mind:

What NOT to do

  1. Don’t freak out and jump to conclusions.
  2. Don’t bring up all your references or defend your reasons for having a suspicion.
  3. Don’t be accusatory or express disappointment or anger that will cut off communication.
  4. Don’t avoid the situation or hope someone else will take care of it.

What TO do

  1. Pray about it. Ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment.
  2. Meet with the student one-on-one (or with another adult if you’re the opposite gender).
  3. Communicate your love and support and let the student know you’re on their side, but also express your concerns.
  4. Let the student know that you must share your concerns with their parent(s), but that you wanted to respect them and talk with them about it first.
  5. Be forthright. Don’t beat around the bush. Just come out and ask what you need to ask.
  6. Ask straight-up questions and expect straight-up answers in return.
  7. Report the situation to the Sr. Pastor.
  8. Talk with the parents after meeting with the student and share with them your impressions and any recommendations you have about the situation.
  9. Report to the appropriate authorities as necessary.
  10. Pray for the student.
  11. Be available to follow-up with the student.
  12. Be willing to be an accountability partner if agreed by the student.

I know every situation is different and there are grey areas in this list, so think of it as a rough guideline. What input can the rest of give?

Posted on October 9, 2007

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