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Updated by education on Jul 01, 2019
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10 Ways To Make Your Place A Safe Space For Youth!

The United Nations commemorated August 12, 2018 to be International Youth Day. This year’s theme is “Safe Spaces for Youth” to bring awareness to the need for safe spaces for youth in our communities. A safe space, as defined by the UN, is a space “ where youth can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves.” https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/news/2018/07/iyd/

Although this day has passed, safe spaces are necessary year round, especially during a time of intense political discourse and social change.

1

Keep things sex-positive!

Keep things sex-positive!

Sex positive language assumes that all consensual sexual activities are part of a healthy lifestyle. If a young person has questions about sex or relationships, give them accurate, unbiased information and resources.

2

Listen to what youth have to say.

Listen to what youth have to say.

If they have an interest, take it seriously!

3

Provide a space that is safe for students of all racial or ethnic identities.

Provide a space that is safe for students of all racial or ethnic identities.

Make a space where minority students feel empowered to speak up. This shows teens that their voices matter.

4

Put up a safe zone sticker signalling support for LGBTQ youth.

Put up a safe zone sticker signalling support for LGBTQ youth.

According to Advocates for Youth, about 10% of teens identify as LGBTQ. Positively acknowledging and supporting LGBTQ students and creating a non-negotiable policy for discriminatory language can significantly affect their mental health. Showing respect and acknowledging identities will make a significant impact on at least a handful of students.

5

Ask youth about their pronouns and call them by their preferred pronouns.

Ask youth about their pronouns and call them by their preferred pronouns.

And learn and practice saying names correctly! If you are unsure of how a name sounds or what pronouns a person uses, just ask! Just doing this affirms a person's identity and gender expression and helps prevent triggers for them.

6

Offer trauma-informed services.

Offer trauma-informed services.

Creating a supportive environment and allowing a moment for meditation or deep breathing when a young person is stressed can help them focus and reflect on their emotional state.

7

Make a safe space for youth to blow off steam.

Make a safe space for youth to blow off steam.

Sometimes people just need a moment. Offering space for this and tools to help teens center themselves, like breathing balls, can be really helpful for mental health.

8

Be an active bystander.

Be an active bystander.

If you see, hear, or think bullying might be happening, listen to what is happening and learn more about what’s going on.

9

Laugh with the youth!

Laugh with the youth!

Laughter and humor can help heal and build bonds. I remember having a running joke in one of my English classes that kept us giggling for weeks. Little did we know, this was probably healing for all of us.

10

Take care of yourself!

Take care of yourself!

Being around young people is a great thing, but it is important to take care of your needs so that you can be a good mentor to others.