7 Tips for Youth-Supporting Professionals for Talking with Youth About Sexual and Reproductive Health

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Youth-supporting professionals can play a critical role in educating youth about sexual health. For example, professionals can support young people in developing the skills they need to safely negotiate sexual encounters.1 When professionals approach conversations with youth about sexual and reproductive health openly and honestly, they can build and maintain a rapport with young people.

This tip sheet provides youth-supporting professionals with seven tangible recommendations to promote effective and open conversations about sexual and reproductive health with young people, especially youth who are in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems or who are experiencing homelessness or disconnection from work and school (also referred to as opportunity youth).

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These tips were developed through a series of discussion sessions with five youth who have been involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems or who have experienced homelessness or disconnection, and four youth-supporting professionals. Activate researchers identified relevant literature to support the themes that emerged from those discussions. Whenever possible, that research focused on youth in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, youth experiencing homelessness, or opportunity youth.

These tips are based on two assumptions about the role of professionals in communicating with youth about sexual and reproductive health:

  1. Youth-supporting professionals have conversations with young people about sexual and reproductive health. The recommendations in this tip sheet are meant to facilitate those conversations.
  2. Youth-supporting professionals must acknowledge when they do not have answers to youths’ questions and seek needed information in partnership with the youth. Youth-supporting professionals should avoid trying to “know everything” when discussing sexual and reproductive health with youth.

The 7 Tips

Youth-supporting professionals and youth identified the following tips: 

  • 01

    Be Comprehensive and Clear in Discussions about Sexual and Reproductive Health

  • 02

    Explain Confidentiality and Reporting Requirements

  • 03

    Use Inclusive, Gender-Neutral Language

  • 04

    Customize Interactions with Youth Based on Context and Individual Need

  • 05

    Honor and Respect Youth Requests and Decision-Making

  • 06

    Use Positive Mannerisms and Body Language

  • 07

    Build Safe Physical and Emotional Environments (in-person and virtually)

Footnotes:

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