The beginning of the 21st Century society witnessed incredible technological advancements, dramatically altering individual’s lifestyles.
Along with these changes came an increase in lifestyle pressures resulting in a gradual decline of health seeking behaviours (Gregg 2013). Studies are showing that 1:5 young people are suffering from anxiety, failing to thrive emotionally (Dowling 2005). Access to alcohol and other mood altering substances has increased, resulting in early sexual experiences and health damaging behaviour (Schubotz et al 2004).
Often parents/carers feel ill equipped to talk to their children about sexuality and relationships and children are developing through adolescents without the knowledge or skills to cope with adult life. It is therefore the responsibility of the professional caring for the child to ensure children are safe and secure and have the skills and social support that will enhance their resilience; enabling them to develop healthy, sustaining relationships that will enhance their adult life. Children and adolescents need to know information from a reliable trustworthy source, otherwise information may be sought from unreliable contacts which may be detrimental to their well-being.
What skills does a professional need to communicate about relationships and sexuality?
- Be knowledgeable; know where the local sexual health and reproductive clinics are, know the facts
- Be consistent and give all the information in an age appropriate manner
- Be able to understand different perspectives values and attitudes
- Be a good listener
- Be aware of policy and guidance
- Be safe; safety is the cornerstone for all healthy relationships
- Be reliable
- Be able to allow child to lead conversation
- Be engaged
- Be responsible
- Be un-shockable
- Be non-judgemental
- Supporting agencies to tackle childhood adversity across Northern Ireland The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland is working with its 27 member agencies and more to build a trauma informed workforce across Northern Ireland.
- Trauma Informed Practice is a way of increasing the understanding of trauma and its impact through supporting development of skills and knowledge throughout the workforce. It also recognises the correlation between trauma and poorer outcomes which may be caused by the direct impact of the trauma, the impact of the trauma on a person’s coping response or the impact of the trauma on a person’s relationships with others.
- Children and adolescents want to be able to talk to their parents or carers about relationships and sexuality. It is important that they understand how their bodies grow and develop and that this is a perfectly normal part of our development.
- As a parent, carer, neighbour, teacher or anyone in contact with children and families you may at times have concerns about the welfare of a child. These could be concerns about their development, appearance or behaviour which may indicate signs of abuse.