Making the wider connections with young people

October 2012

Here we outline some of the ways in which people working in child accident prevention can build connections with young people to develop a good understanding of risk and how to deal with it. 

As children grow up, they may feel that they are also growing out of the safety behaviours which were taught in childhood. Young people may feel that 'staying safe' means having their freedom and activity constrained. But a better understanding of risk, and how to deal with it, can actually help to promote greater levels of activity, play, improved fitness and healthier lives. Seeking the views of children and young people themselves is an important foundation for action and informed choices.

The Association for Young People's Health's resource key data on adolescence 2011 contains a wide range of research data that can help to inform local strategies for young people's health and wellbeing.

Engaging young people

UK Youth Parliament logoEngagement with children and young people on key personal and local issues can take place through schools, local council activity, through faith communities and in the work of national organisations such as the UK Youth Parliament and the Children’s Commissioner. For older young people in particular, attitudes towards safety and risk may often be based on perceptions of personal safety influenced by local news and developments.
Resources on engaging young people

  • Health-e learning is a set of online resources developed by the National Youth Agency to help youth professionals work more effectively on health issues with young people. The Healthy Lifestyle module includes safety in the home, at school and on the roads.
  • The use of social media and other innovative communication approaches present new outlets and opportunities for youth engagement. Guidance was produced for youth workers and others to help them to make the most of these creative outreach channels. See the archived guidance, Aiming High for Young People: Engaging through social media.

Involving children and young people in commissioning

The active involvement of children and young people at the key stages of the ‘commissioning cycle’ is an essential part of achieving improved outcomes for their health, safety and well-being. Participation can be developed and sustained in a number of ways over time, using a variety of opportunities for dialogue, debate and service development.

Events such as Child Safety Week, and programmes such as Healthy Schools offer channels of engagement and communication which support local health needs and strategies, promoting outreach and involvement across the community.

Resources on involving young people

Understanding safety and risk

Creating an early understanding of risk and how to manage it is an investment for future lives and the future workforce. Familiar community organisations such as the Scouts, Guides and St John Ambulance, help children and young people to understand safety, risk and life skills such as first aid training in positive and supportive environments. These can lead to badges of achievement as well as opportunities to gain more advanced qualifications.

British Safety Council (BSC) research found that 58% of young workers “had no idea about safety in the workplace”. According to the BSC, 3200 young people between the ages of 16 to 19 were seriously injured in the workplace during 2009. The BSC say that, “Some 66 under-19s were killed at work during the last 10 years and one is seriously injured every 40 minutes.” (BBC News 23 April 2008).

Work experience placements provide a good opportunity for young people to gain first hand awareness of the importance of safety, both in the workplace as well as in the wider community.

Resources on understanding safety and risk

  • In 2009, Girlguiding UK surveyed more than 1000 girls involved in guiding and aged between 10 and 18 to discover their attitudes to risk and responsibility. The research report, Redefining risk: Girls shout out! explores the balance needed between education about risk, and learning how to manage risk within a safe environment.
  • Knowing how to travel safely and independently is a key life skill. Transport Guidance: Supporting Access to Positive Activities includes case studies on involving young people in the use of public transport. This promotes improved access for positive activities in the community. There are resource links to facilitate young people’s participation.
  • Speak Up, Stay SafeThe BSC’s Speak Up, Stay Safe campaign asks young people to take responsibility for their own health and safety. With a young person being seriously injured in the workplace every 40 minutes, the campaign supports young people to feel confident talking to their work supervisor, parent, teacher or friends if they feel that they are in an unsafe situation.
  • The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE's) The Right Start publication provides health and safety guidance for employers offering work experience placements.
  • The Institute of Occupational Health and Safety has developed the Wiseup2work resource to help teenagers prepare for their first job by understanding the risks they'll face and how to handle them.
  • The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has produced the Starting out DVD for key stage 4 students (14–16 year olds), to make young people more aware of their employment rights and responsibilities, including safety matters.
  • HSE initiatives span workplace safety and safety education messages aimed at the wider community. For example, their August 2010 press release, issued at the start of school holidays, reminds parents that, “Building sites are not adventure playgrounds.” Companies are also reminded that building sites, “should be secure, with good fencing to prevent public access.”
  • Farms are homes as well as workplaces and agriculture is the only high-risk industry that has to deal with the constant presence of children. The HSE's Farm Safe campaign page includes resources about keeping children safe on farms.
  • Despite the dangers, railway tracks can be tempting places for children to play - especially for those who live near to railway lines. CAPT's Safety signpost page on railway safety includes links to resources that teach children and young people about tge dangers of playing near railways.
  • A network of local safety groups, affiliated to RoSPA, acts as an advice forum and communications network for people in the community who are interested in workplace health and safety.
Updated June 2013