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