Parenting is rewarding but rarely easy! Especially over the last few months where Covid has taken it's toll on the emotional and mental well-being of children as they have had reduced contact with friends and a disrupted school life. Calderdale is in the fortunate position of having a great deal of support out there and a really useful website has been created, bringing together lots of information on services, as well as invaluable ideas of how families and young people themselves can support their own well-being.
Check out the website and see what's on offer by clicking here or on the Open Minds image.
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs there is and one, of many, challenges is supporting your child through the trials and tribulations of growing up and help them to develop healthy relationships. Unfortunately there isn't a blueprint or "script" to use when discussing relationships, consent, Sexuality, physical attraction and everything else!
However, the following links will hopefully provide some useful ideas that can be used or adapted to support conversations you may have with your child to help keep them safe and well.
Talking about Relationships and Sex;
As a parent we face many challenges raising our children, one of which is talking about Relationships, Sex and Consent. this is made even more complicated with the rise of smartphones, easy access to information for good or ill, and often unrealistic lives depcited through social media. One of the key skills here is listening to your child, often they may be just as confused about all this as us parents and need someone to listen to their concerns and worries, or just explore different aspects of relationships to help them stay healthy and safe. There is lots of help out there and the following links should be useful, but a good place to start is this article from the parent info website.
Online Safety and Sexting
Online safety has been a growing concern on recent years and there are some useful sources of information to explain how children can be kept safe. A couple of useful sites are;
Parent Info also provides a site dedicated to supporting parents with information and knowledge to help support their children navigate the digital world.
The first point here is that research undertaken by the NSPCC in 2016 highlighted that most young people are not engaged in sexting and it is a minority of young people who take or send sexts (or Naked / semi-naked Selfies). Some useful links to find out more are;
Thinkuknow (section on Sexting)
NSPCC (section on sexting)
NSPCC research in 2016 showed around 28% of children aged 11/12 had seen pornographic material with both actively seeking this and accidental exposure being the case. Maintaining an open conversation with children about this issue will make it easier, if they are exposed to this material, to be able to talk with you about what they have seen and how they felt about it.
Thinkuknow (section around pornography)
Consent is a key aspect of relationships, and especially in sexual relationships, which in many ways should be very straightforward. The old adage of "No means No" is useful but what if a No isn't obvious? Consent is only given where there is a clear and obvious "Yes" either verbally or through body language. The following website offers a useful video and information explaining consent more fully, including how alcohol for example can affect consent;
Being able to express sexuality without fear of discrimination and / or harm is an important part of positive sexual health, and with Calderdale Barnardos offers support and guidance to young people and families, through the positive futures project.
Identity (Youth Group)
Alcohol or other substances can increase the risk of unsafe sex and / or regret where people perhaps go further than intended. Calderdale's Branching Out service can support young people who are finding that there substance misuse is affecting their lives, and a family support service helps those around them.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's)
Did you know there were approximately 470000 infections diagnosed in England and Wales in 2019 with Chlamydia accounting for almost half of STI's diagnosed. We have also seen concerning increases in gonorrhoea in the last few years along with a rise in drug resistant strains of this particular infection. We also know the highest rates occur in young people aged 15 to 25, for example this age group account for approximately two thirds of all infections despite only making up atround 11% of the population. For more information on different STI's and the risks see our STI page.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have produced a couple of useful guides for parents and children explaining how confidentiality applies to young people accessing healthcare services.
RCGP website - Further information and links.
Hopefully the links on this page have or will prove useful to support discussions, but if you think we've missed anything or you have any suggestions for how we can improve this page please let us know by clicking here.