Support Networks:

I always tell young people that the most important protective factor when it comes to staying safe is having someone to talk to. Regardless of who you are, we all need people around us that we can share our thoughts and feelings with – the fun and silly stuff as well as our worries and concerns.

Get young people to think and map out their own support networks and review them regularly.

A simple way of doing this is to get them to draw around their hand – then write a person’s name along each finger – you can go as far a writing support services along the wrist too.

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You could even separate each digit into a different category – Friends, Home, School, Clubs, Other…

Next give them an imagined scenario – and ask who can they talk to…

For example:

If the scenario is that you fall out with your parents…. my thumb is no use to me… so who is left…

Suggest scenarios might be:

  • Someone shares an image of you,
  • You have a pregnancy scare
  • Your partner cheats on you
  • You are worried that a friend is in abusive relationship
  • You are told a secret that makes you feel scared
  • You are struggling with your school work…

The point is to make sure young people have a wide a support network as possible. If all your support comes from school – what happens during the holidays for example?

The people around us should be people we can talk to and feel like we won’t be judged, laughed at or pushed away. Even if we feel that there is no one close to use be sure to highlight the importance of services like Childline, CEOP and Barnardos for young people who feel like they have nowhere to turn.

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