- Communicate with Families.
Let families know when lessons/discussions focused on body safety, online safety, and healthy relationships will take place. Provide resources for parents/caregivers ahead of time and/or have a parent session first to help them feel equipped to reinforce conversations at home.
- Find Quality Resources.
Look for resources that use positive and empowering messages and avoid those that use fear or shame to teach. Your local Child Advocacy Center may be able to help identify what evidence informed or evidence based tools for adolescents are being used effectively in your area.
- Ground the Messages in Faith.
There can be such a richness in a discussion about bodies and safety when those discussions are centered around God’s unconditional love. For example, youth ministers and faith leaders may find these types of statements/questions to be helpful in allowing for open, honest, and empowering discussions with adolescents:
- God made bodies and said that they were good. You have the right to feel safe in your body.
- What are ways that we can honor our neighbor to be sure that they feel safe in their bodies.
- What does a healthy freindship or a healthy relationship look like?
- What does a supportive and faithful community look like? Who are people in this faith community that you could talk to if someone ever ignored or violated your boundaries? Who are people in other strong communities that you can use as resources?
- It can be tempting to validate self worth by online metrics like views or likes. What are some of the ways that this pattern can be harmful? How do we create balance between online interactions and offline interactions? What are ways that your beliefs guide your online choices?
- Lean on the Experts.
It is important that messages about safety come from multiple sources. Youth ministers and faith leaders who are not specifically trained in addressing body safety issues – including how to handle disclosures about abuse – should identify and collaborate with people in their your community who are professionally invested in safety (social workers, public health professionals, school health teachers, Children’s Advocacy Center personnel, etc.) to ensure that any messages/teachings by the faith community are grounded in best practices.