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How participation can improve outcomes in learning about healthy relationships and preventing peer-to-peer sexual harm

The power of Young Voices in Plymouth Together for Childhood

Publication date December 2023

Young Voices was a programme working with young people in Plymouth to promote healthy relationships and prevent peer-on-peer sexual harm. The programme was part of our Together for Childhood work, collaborating with local residents and agencies to help prevent child sexual abuse.

Between 2019 and 2022, 96 young people aged 13-16, known as ‘Young Campaigners’, were involved in the design and development of campaigns. Six youth-focused campaigns were shared across Plymouth’s secondary schools and one campaign was created for parents and carers.

The Young Voices programme was evaluated through focus groups and interviews with the Young Campaigners, students in participating schools, teaching staff and the project team.

The evaluation considers:

  • young campaigners experiences of taking part in the programme
  • how the campaigns were received by students in participating schools
  • the outputs and outcomes of the Young Voices programme
  • the experiences and learning of the project team.

 

Authors: Claire White and Kandy Sisya

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Key finding

Participation empowers young people and increases their understanding of peer-on-peer sexual harm, crucial steps towards prevention.

The Young Voices programme engaged young people in the design, development and delivery of healthy relationships campaigns and enabled them to build strong relationships with safe and supportive professionals. 

Other findings

Young Campaigners said the participatory approach gave them a deeper understanding of healthy relationships 

The Young Voices programme enabled young people to share their views, learn from each other, and have comprehensive discussions about healthy relationships. Young people felt this approach helped them to learn more about the topic than the standard approach to sex and relationships education in their school.

The participatory approach provided safeguarding opportunities, by empowering young people to discuss their experiences and seek help if they needed it.

Young Campaigners were provided with a safe space to discuss healthy relationships and gain new insights and perspectives. Young people said being involved in the programme gave them confidence that their voices were being heard. 

Young Campaigners’ lived experiences and insights helped them generate powerful campaigns

Students watching the campaigns said the messages were clear and relevant, and delivered in interesting ways. Students felt they were more likely to accept advice from peers, and wanted more participation in sex and relationships education so they could discuss the topics with the biggest impact on their lives.

“I’d say about the whole project in general, us presenting it, makes the others reflect on it and think if we can gain confidence and express some of our opinions then maybe they can as well.”

Young Campaigner

Citation

Please cite as: White, C. and Sisya, K. (2023) The power of Young Voices in Plymouth Together for Childhood: how participation can improve outcomes in learning about healthy relationships and preventing peer-to-peer sexual harm. London: NSPCC.