The wellbeing agenda for Children and young people: Embracing Sexual health Dr Ann Hoskins Deputy Regional Director of Public Health / Acting Director of Children and Young People NHS North West
Helping children and young people to lead healthy lives
Tackling inequalities in childhood is the most cost effective intervention for reducing health inequalities in childhood and later life
Poverty, deprivation or poor parenting can reduce life expectancy, lead to poor mental health and increase demands on key services
People’s lifestyle patterns are often set in early life – e.g. smoking, obesity, physical activity
Children from the poorest families are more likely to be killed as a result of unintentional injuries
‘ while there are more opportunities for families and children now than ever before, parents say they sometimes find it difficult to cope with the rapidly changing world.’
Parents and families need support and backing to fulfil their role
All children have the potential to succeed and should go as far as their talents will take them
Children and young people need to enjoy their childhood as well as being prepared for adult life
Services need to be shaped and responsive to need not designed around boundaries
It is always better to prevent failure rather than tackle crisis
* Adapted from DFCSF Children’s Plan – Building a brighter Future 2007
A duty of wellbeing
Schools in England and Wales will be required to promote children’s well-being under an amendment to the Education and Inspections Bill .
The change will place a statutory obligation on school governing bodies to help improve pupils’ physical, mental, emotional and social well-being, as well as their educational attainment. Schools will also be required to play their part in protecting children from harm and neglect, and steering them towards positive activities and away from antisocial behaviour.
Sexual health – risk taking?
There is growing concern regarding the youth of today, particularly with regard to their behaviour and health risks (Sharland 2006).
Reports regarding antisocial behaviour and engagement in illegal risky activities appear to be reported by the media and seized upon up by the public with alarming regularity (Sharland 2006).
Aside to the legality of risk taking behaviours, the potential health impacts for our future citizens are constantly highlighted in terms of engaging in unprotected sexual activity, smoking and binge drinking.
Parents would seem to be absolving their responsibilities in terms of control and providing clear boundaries (Guardian 2006).
Wellings et al (2001) suggests, the most vulnerable young people would seem more likely to engage in risky lifestyles, are then we failing as a society?
Unicef report records that out of 21 countries, the United Kingdom is at the bottom of the league table for child well-being.
Specifically, children in the UK had the highest incidence of risk-taking behaviour: more have had sexual intercourse by the age of 15 than in any other country, more have been drunk two or more times aged between 11,13 and 15 than in any other country, and they are the third highest users of cannabis
Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries, Innocenti Report Card 7, Unicef
Embracing positive sexual health through youth participation
Young people do not take risks, they ‘experiment and explore’.
The risks to young people's health can never be reduced to zero, we can provide advice, guidance and support to help lower risks and promote positive sexual health
Joint action is needed from governments, civil society, international agencies, parents and young people, in order to protect young people and help them protect themselves.
Health and risk behaviours are influenced at three inter-dependent levels
Levers; APA Children’s Plans Priority meetings Local Area agreements Inspection Frameworks Commissioning Frameworks National and regional tiers Operating Framework Joint Needs Assessment You’re Welcome
A focus on improvement rather than performance management
Service improvement should be nurtured if it is to be sustained!
Effective, transparent communication, with aligned goals.
Investment in leaders to release potential and aim higher!
Key Organisational qualities; Adapted from – NHS Leadership Qualities Framework 2002 Effective management Embracing learning opportunities Shared beliefs and values Drive for improvement Integrity
Tackling teen conceptions
Access to contraception
Embracing Sexual health
Determining identity within an adult world may prove to be troublesome for young people, particularly given the contrasting and conflicting expectations and media images of young people.
Images of children and young people can sway from being portrayed victims to villains, on one hand drug taking, drinking, violence, yet on the other hand neglected, abused and let down by society (Franklin 2002).
During these challenging times young people would undoubtedly benefit from stability, security and consistency, unfortunately some young people may grow up families or in the care system with no clear guidelines as to what is appropriate behaviour.
It could argued that young people are not taking risks but experimenting in preparation for adulthood, whilst acknowledging for other vulnerable groups risk taking not so much a choice but an escape from their insecurities
Perhaps there needs to be a more balanced focus on the pleasures as well as the dangers of risk-taking and links to alternative ways of enhancing self-identity such as sport, volunteering and work experiences.. ……………