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TORONTO, Feb. 26, 2015 /CNW/ - Approximately 71 per cent of youth in Canada report being in a dating relationship by the age of 151, which is why it's so important to start talking to young people about healthy relationships at an early age.
At Kids Help Phone nearly 10,000 kids and teens reach out every year for relationship support. Parents and other adults can play an important role in developing and strengthening a young person's understanding of healthy relationships, including consent.
Consent isn't just about sex. It's about teaching kids to ask for permission, developing respect for themselves and others, and learning to set boundaries. It's also something that should be taught at all ages to help young people develop healthy relationships throughout all stages of their lives.
"So there's this guy I've liked for a while, and we just started dating. I was at his house the other day and we were kissing. I was really nervous because he was my first kiss. After a while we went to his bedroom and he forced me to lie on his bed and we started to make out. And I didn't really want to, but I went along with it anyway because he's my boyfriend. I'm scared that the next time we hangout he'll want to go further and I won't be able to stop him. He doesn't know that much about me yet, and he's going too fast. I just don't feel ready."
- Real quote from kidshelpphone.ca
"When it comes to being intimate, you get to decide what you are comfortable with, and at any moment you can choose to withdraw consent," says Duane, Kids Help Phone counsellor. "If at first you provide consent, maybe by saying 'yes', and sometime later you say 'no', then your partner needs to respect the change in your decision."
One of the most effective ways to educate young people about healthy relationships is for parents and other adults to model that behaviour for the kids around them, such as:
- Staying true to who you are and being yourself;
- Being supportive of others;
- Actively listening; and
- Developing trust.
It's important to remember that these factors extend to all types of relationships, including friends, teachers, mentors and neighbours.
Relationship red flags
It is estimated that between thirty and fifty per cent of adolescents experience some form of physical aggression in at least one romantic relationship2.
"Parents should always trust their instincts when it comes to their children's safety," says Duane, Kids Help Phone counsellor. "Start by asking 'Is everything OK?' and list some things you've notice, like changes in sleep patterns or food habits. Those can be signs that something challenging may be happening in your child's life. Even if your kid doesn't want to talk in that moment, it shows them that you're interested in what's happening in their life and hopefully they'll know you'll be there when they're ready to talk."
Kids Help Phone counsellors are always there to help young people ages five to 20 at kidshelpphone.ca or 1-800-668-6868.
1 Source: Statistics Canada, 2008: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2010002/article/11242-eng.htm
2 Source: Sexualityandu.ca, 2011: http://sexualityandu.ca/uploads/files/CTR_DatingViolence-MAY2011.pdf
About Kids Help Phone
Kids Help Phone is a Canadian and world leader, known for its expertise and continuous innovation as Canada's only 24/7 professional counselling and information service for young people. Since 1989, it has offered kids, teens, and young adults a critical lifeline of hope and support through its free, anonymous service, which research shows significantly improves youth mental health. Young people reach out to Kids Help Phone's counsellors from every corner of the country via phone, Live Chat, and web post, and also benefit from its database of 40,000 local youth-serving programs. Kids Help Phone's websites and Always There app, both widely recognized models of youth-focused design, offer therapeutic tools, games, information, and counselling. As an organization that speaks with young people every day, Kids Help Phone works to share their perspectives and improve their well-being on a societal level. Kids Help Phone raises the majority of its revenue from individuals, foundations, corporations, and community fundraising; thanks to its generous donors, it can be there – always – for the 6.5 million young people in Canada between five and 20, in English and in French.
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SOURCE Kids Help Phone
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