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Professional Resources

Healthy Relationships

Throughout life making meaningful relationships with those around us is important for our health and wellbeing. Early relationships are a blueprint for how we will build healthy bonds with others in the future.

Hopefully the attachment we build with our primary carers provides a foundation enabling us to manage and build relationships with others as we grow and develop. This is known as attachment theory.

However for any number of reasons, and at different times, relationships will be tricky to navigate for us all. For some children and young people building healthy relationships will be a particular challenge. This may be because of their lived experience and / or because of their additional needs and vulnerabilities.

It is compulsory for all settings to provide relationship, sex and health education. This is in recognition of the positive influence this can have for children and young people.

Dive Deeper

In Professional Settings

Settings are well placed to model positive relationships. They can provide the space to think about how we make and maintain healthy relationships. Settings can also help pupils identify those relationships that are unhealthy, and how they can seek help.

All relationships should be built on trust, respect and good communication. Setting culture can encompass this by valuing kindness, inclusivity and taking responsibility for own actions. It can model positive relationships, and help children manage conflict in their friendship groups in a healthy way. Helping children and young people build self-esteem and resilience is important. When children and young people recognise their self worth they will be less vulnerable to controlling and abusive friendships and other relationships.

Healthy Relationships

Not all children will have the invaluable experience of being around healthy relationships.

  • Children need to understand the difference between good and bad relationships. Childline have resources to help young people. This includes guidance on making a safety plan and a form to document it on.
  • Young people are vulnerable to embarking on abusive relationships as both victim or perpetrator. In 2009 an NSPCC survey found that 25% of girls age 13-17 described abuse from an intimate partner.

Online Safety

There are additional complications for young people today. The dawn of smart phones and social media enables positive social connections. They also bring new risks and challenges like sexting, cyberbullying and contact by strangers. Young people need to be able to talk about these challenges openly so that they can understand risk that being online poses and know when to seek advice.

Intimate Relationships

As children grow they need increased information about how to keep safe in intimate relationships. Children and young people need to understand consent and how to be confident to say no at any time and share when they feel worried or uncomfortable.

Preparing young people to keep themselves safe both physically and emotionally as they embark on intimate relationships is an important role of those working with this group.

  • Professionals need to consider Gillick Competency and Fraser Guidelines to be sure young people have the capacity to consent.
  • If you become aware that a young person aged under 13 is sexually active, it is always a safeguarding concern and needs referral and assessment by children’s services (Sexual Offences Act 2003).
  • Young people need to understand safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy - Brook (who provide sexual health and wellbeing advice for under 25s) have information on this and accessing local services.

Settings need to be mindful of gender, culture and religious beliefs that may impact on how children and young people feel. They may need extra help to access advice and support on intimate relationships. If young people have competency they should be able to decide for themselves what information and advice is relevant to them.

Resources 

Additional Resources

  • Islington Council's Health and Wellbeing Team - RSE booklist guide
  • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) provide the lesson resources below. They also have a Teaching Resource Guidance document.

Key Stage 2

Key Stage 3

Key Stage 4

E-Learning

'All Our Health' offer free, bite-sized e-learning sessions - to improve the knowledge, confidence and skills of health and care professionals in preventing illness, protecting health and promoting wellbeing. The sessions cover some of the biggest issues in public health including;

  • Childhood obesity 
  • Pollution
  • Alcohol misuse
  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

They contain signposting to trusted sources of helpful evidence, guidance and support to help professionals embed prevention in their everyday practice.

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