Free Conversation Toolkit Helps Young People Stay Safe
It’s not easy to talk with youth about sensitive topics such as cybersafety, healthy relationships, and bullying. To help facilitate these discussions, the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC), in partnership with the youth leadership group, P.O.P! (The Power of Prevention), created the site, “100 Conversations.”
The goal of “100 Conversations” is to increase safety and reduce sexual violence for all youth, and in particular for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning. The site’s “Topics” section has links to 100 conversations categorized into 10 major topics including “Boundaries & Values,” “Consent & Laws,” and “Bystanders & Resources.”
The toolkit also includes other supportive information such as steps to take before you talk with a young person, and how to take a risk-reduction approach to digital safety. Here we highlight some of the site’s sections:
Values. If organizations want to make sure that “100 Conversations” is in line with their mission and values, this section is the right place to start. From personal responsibility to a youth-centered approach, the authors make it clear that the goal of the project is to empower young people to take care of themselves through the use of a powerful prevention strategy — communication.
Before you talk. Discussing sensitive topics with youth can be awkward. The toolkit provides tips on preparing for and initiating these conversations. With a focus on bringing intention to dialogue and being committed to practicing skills, the authors provide questions readers can ask themselves as part of their preparation, such as “What are your values around sharing information about sex and safety?”
Topics. No matter how shy someone is, the step-by-step conversation guidance in the “Topics” section will help build readers’ confidence. In Conversation #28: “Relationships: Wants & Needs Changing,” for example, the authors provide sets of questions to use in different stages of the conversation. The three stages are categorized with the subheadings, “Start here,” “Continue,” and “Keep talking.” For this topic, one of the suggested questions in the ‘Continue’ set is, “How might school difficulties affect your needs in a relationship?”
Where to focus. In this section, KCSARC and P.O.P! clarify how their unique approach to promoting safety online through risk reduction is somewhat different than the standard approach. Using the research of David Finkelhor to support their suggestions, the authors compare standard cybersafety mantras such as, “Sharing your real name is dangerous,” to more practical and relevant tips such as, “Talking online about sex with people you don’t know in real life can increase your risk.”
The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center encourages organizations to contact their staff with questions about how to use “100 Conversations” or any of their other resources. Contact KCSARC’s 24-Hour Resource Line at 888-99-VOICE.
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Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.