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Think. Discuss. Act. Authority

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Helping Young People Deal With Authority Figures

To help young people distinguish and deal with authority figures who use their influence both legitimately and illegitimately.


Leader Preparation

  • Discuss how authority is used legitimately and illegitimately.
  • Consider authority figures your group encounters and discuss how they are perceived.
  • Prepare to discuss appropriate music or videos.
  • Review “The Breakfast Club” and record approximately 4-8 minutes of segments dealing with authority figures. Some suggestions: the teacher’s handling of John; the views of the parents by Allison, Brian, and Andrew; and Brian’s essay to the teacher at the end of the movie. Edit language if you desire.
  • Set up the video cassette recorder.
  • Plan and inform fellow leaders about discussion time.

Group Building

Sing songs to “break the ice” within the group. Get them in talkative mood. You may direct a skit having kids role play parents and teachers who deal with kids who have performed poorly on report cards, want to buy something objectionable, or are discipline cases.

Group Presentation

  • Introduce the segment from “The Breakfast Club”. Ask the group, “Are the authorities represented in these short segments using their authority legitimately or illegitimately?”
  • Show 4-8 minute video of “The Breakfast Club”.

Group Discussion

  • What types of authority are represented?
  • Is the authority used legitimate or illegitimate?
  • Do you think your parents and teachers use their authority legitimately or illegitimately? Why?
  • If someone uses authority illegitimately, can and should they still be considered an authority? How would you handle this with those you encounter?
  • How do you think your teachers and parents became the type of authorities they are? How did they learn to be authorities?
  • What would you change about your parents’ and teachers’ use of authority?
  • How could you help your parents and teachers become better authorities?

Evaluation and Follow-Up

  • Get feedback from group about the program.
  • The following week, ask the group if they saw their parents and teachers from a different perspective. Did anyone do anything to help parents and teachers become better authorities? Why or why not?
  • Consider what was and was not effective with the kids and record for future reference.

Richard White
© 2018 CYS

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