When talking to teens about difficult topics it’s crucial to have a safe space and accurate information.
So says Chantel Butterfield, who is hosting an upcoming event with the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre that will explore healthy relationships.
“I’m hoping we can have really honest conversations about healthy expectations and boundaries in relationships, and identifying safe adults to talk to about things like sex and intimacy,” said Butterfield, the agency’s project coordinator of human trafficking support and awareness.
“I know sometimes it’s hard for youth — they don’t want to talk to their parents or a teacher, or even a guidance counsellor… it’s such a taboo and difficult topic for youth to talk about with adults they know.”
The two-part seminar is geared to youth aged 13 to 17 and will explore dating, consent, sex and intimacy on Feb. 25. Part 2 on March 4 covers relationship ‘red flags’ and how to address them, risky behaviour, and exploitation.
Butterfield said she hears from many parents who worry their teens aren’t receiving proper education on topics like consent and risky behaviours.
“We are really finding that there’s a huge gap for preventative education for youth,” said Butterfield. “We are not a board-approved presenter for the schools, and while we do get invited to do presentations, they’re very specific about the content that needs to be taught.
“So when it comes to exploitation, human trafficking and those risk factors, those conversations are not being had in the schools — at least not by us.”
Butterfield noted the agency does run free, educational groups for youth, but attendance is low.
“We’ll get one or two youth, which is fine and we will run a group for them, but it’s always really awkward for them if there’s not a group of people having the conversation,” she said, adding they’re looking at hosting a similar event for a younger age group (10 to 13) as well.
“We really want to get the information out there, so youth know how to be safe. If your boyfriend or girlfriend asks you to do something that you’re not comfortable with — just having that sounding board to say, ‘is this normal?’ and exploring those feelings that make you uncomfortable.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: It’s All Relational: Exploring Youth Relationships
WHERE: Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre Sarnia-Lambton, 420 East Street North, unit 11, Sarnia.
WHEN: Part 1: Monday, February 25, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Part 2: Monday, March 4, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
DETAILS: Event is free and pizza dinner provided. For more, call 519-337-3154 or email [email protected]. Registration online through Eventbrite