Would your youth feel comfortable coming to you if something happened to them?
Check out these tips for talking with your youth:
1. Try to be non-judgmental when listening to your youth.
2. Pay attention to your body, and try to reflect understanding and empathy through your body language as well as your words.
3. Name the behavior rather than labeling the youth. For example, a youth is not “stupid” because they made a choice to do something that was risky (e.g., run away, get in a car with someone who was drunk). And even risky behaviors don’t mean that a youth deserves to be victimized or is at fault for what happened to them.
4. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. No one can promise that a youth will never again experience hurt or violence. Making these promises might help you feel better but they can set up unrealistic expectations for the youth that can cause harm later on.
5. Remember language matters. There is no such thing as a child “pr*stitute.” That child is a victim of human trafficking.
6. If you worry a youth has been harmed, call a local service provider or law enforcement. It’s not your job to investigate what happened.
7. Lastly, if a youth asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to tell them you need to do some research or talk to someone and get back to them. Don’t feel like you need to have all of the answers.