Tips for engaging with young people
Engaging with young people may not be something that you do in your day to day life, so the following simple tips might help you with this when you’re supporting an activity in a school:
- Seek to come across as approachable and interesting.
- Language which ‘preaches’ rather than informs will undoubtedly fall short of achieving its desired impact.
- Note the variation in the age ranges of the young people you will be working with and try to adapt the language you use appropriately. Younger students may not understand some of the everyday words we use as adults e.g. one of my hobbies is ‘socialising’. This may be better explained by ‘I like spending time with friends’.
- Similarly, some young people may have a language of their own. Be ready to say that you don’t understand and ask them to explain – they will appreciate your honesty.
- Avoid using jargon but if it is necessary be sure to explain the meaning.
- Encourage discussion by showing an interest in what the student(s) say.
- Praise whenever possible.
- Consider featuring celebrities or popular TV programmes to promote your message.
- Anecdotes can keep their attention.
Safeguarding Do’s and Don’ts:
- All Skills Service volunteers should demonstrate exemplary behaviour in school settings in order to protect children and young people from harm, and to protect themselves from allegations
- Be aware of the impact of your words and actions on young people
- Ensure that all verbal and non-verbal communication is positive
- Always work in an open environment – no private or unobserved situations
- Treat all young people equally, with respect and dignity
- Always put the welfare of each young person first
- Maintain a safe and appropriate distance from young people
- Give enthusiastic and constructive feedback, not negative criticism
- Don’t allow young people to use inappropriate language
- Never make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun
- Never reduce a child to tears
- Never allow allegations to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon
- Always report if you accidentally hurt a young person, if they seem distressed in any manner, if they make sexual remarks or if they misunderstand or misinterpret something you have done
- Never share personal information with a young person i.e. address, mobile number, or email address
- ‘No Touch Policy’ – ‘Only a tap on the hand’, ‘just a hand on the shoulder’ or ‘I was only separating a scuffle’ might be your version of events, but this often isn’t shared by young people or their parents.