December 6th, 2013

The Importance of being Interrupted

My thoughts have been on safe guarding this week, after attending Child Protection training and following the release of the Children’s Commissioner’s report in to Child Exploitation in Gangs and Groups. These both brought into stark and distressing reality, the horrors that are faced by some of our children and young people.

A key theme from the training and the report was the importance of relationship in preventing and uncovering abuse. It was highlighted that a relationship of trust with a worker was sited by young people as the most significant factor for them in the process of disclosing and recovering from their abuse.

In the age of target and outcome driven youth work, I’m reminded how important it is that we are able to put our agendas down and allow ourselves to really see and hear the young people we are working with. For some of our young people we may be the only adults that do.

I can think of many occasions where a session or activity I’ve been running has been interrupted by a story or a situation that I’ve sometimes willingly, sometimes reluctantly entertained. More often than not I’m really glad I did. Labelling these events as interruptions misses the point. These interruptions are the point! The activities that we run do have value in themselves but perhaps more importantly they are vehicles for relationships to be built; relationships in which young people know they can share things with us and trust us to listen and accept them and be able to handle what they tell us.