The first ever national guidance for professionals giving advice and support to young people on healthy relationships and consent has been published.
It means that whenever a young person seeks advice - whether from a teacher, a health professional or a youth worker – they should receive consistent, age-appropriate information.
The guidance covers a wide range of issues - including healthy relationships, the law concerning sexual activity, respect, consent and the use of intimate images - but the basic principles of respect and consent throughout apply to all relationships.
Aimed at young people of secondary school age and above, professionals will use their expert judgement to determine age and stage-appropriate messages when speaking to young people.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP said:
“Everyone is entitled to a healthy, happy relationship built on respect and this guidance will ensure all of our young people are given consistent advice to make informed choices.
“Getting it right for every child means being able to have open and candid conversations about the issues affecting young people’s lives and that must include a safe space to learn about consensual and healthy relationships.”
Kathryn Dawson, Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator at Rape Crisis Scotland said:
“We’re really pleased these key messages have been developed to support professionals around the country working with young people on these vitally important issues.
“Young people are ready to talk and it’s so important to provide safe spaces for them to learn about consensual and healthy relationships – both in terms of their right to be safe, and their responsibility to respect others in intimate and sexual relationships.”
Lisa Kirkbride, Senior Inspector, Care Inspectorate, said:
“Young people often look for advice about friendships and relationships from the adults they know and trust.
“We need to be able to provide accurate information about healthy relationships and consent so that they can better understand their rights and make safer and healthier choices and decisions for themselves.
“This resource offers key information and messages to enable professionals to talk confidently and sensitively with young people about relationships and consent to sexual activity. This will promote greater access to information that is important in developing healthy relationships and to understanding consent during their remaining childhood and into early adult life.”
The key messages are part of work taking place across the SNP Government to support young people’s understanding of healthy relationships and consent, including the recommendations of the recently published PSE review and the review of the 2014 RSHP (Relationships Sexual Health and Parenthood) teaching guidance.