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Understanding young people today

Young people:

‘have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account’. (Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child).

The way we engage with young people needs to take into account additional ways of communicating, for example through the use of digital devices and connection through social media. To inform your approach to building and maintaining relationships with young people, consider the following:

  • the digital world is constant, fast and accessible, often through mobile devices
  • access to social media influences the way we connect with others
  • communication is often visual—there are a range of global search engines which facilitate access to video content about pretty much anything
  • cyberbullying and child sexual exploitation is enabled through the use of mobile apps

(McCrindle Research Pty Ltd, 2019)

It is important to be aware of these factors as they help us to know more about effective ways to engage a young person in care, and they highlight the safety worries for young people in the connected, global, technological world. For young people in care, ensuring there is a strong safety and support network can mitigate some of these risks and help in the development of meaningful safety plans, placement decisions and ongoing placement support. Furthermore, a collaborative approach to planning and managing transitions, where young people are at the centre of the decision-making process, is more likely to result in successful outcomes.

Further reading

For more information on Working with young people at risk of sexual exploitation, refer to the practice kit Child sexual abuse.

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