Intimacy refers to close personal relationships that individuals seek to establish throughout their lives span. People learn to experience intimacy through the process of making and maintaining significant attachments with others. People who experience secure, emotional attachments — first with parents and caregivers, then with peers, and ultimately with intimate partners — are less likely to experience relationship problems in adulthood than people who fail to develop these attachments. (300)

One of the key predictors of the capacity to form an intimate relationship is the ability to establish a commitment. Families that communicate well about emotional issues and encourage friendships with peers support the development of this ability. Growing up with family conflict or family violence can have a negative effect on a young person’s ability to form healthy relationships. Peers, teachers and significant others in young people’s lives also influence their ability to form healthy relationships in adulthood.

Today, the circumstances surrounding young people’s experience with partner intimacy is quite different than that of previous generations. Young people are marrying later and most births now occur to women over the age of 25. More women are in the workforce, including women with very young children and there has been an increase in common-law living arrangements. The total number of common-law arrangements in Canada tripled between 1981 to 1995 to one million. While the increase in common-law relationships affects all age groups, more and more young people are opting to live together, instead of marrying. Increasingly, these relationships include children (in 1994, one in three births were out-of-wedlock). (184)

While more teen mothers now choose to raise their children (instead of giving them up for adoption), less than 20 percent of all children lived with a teen mother in 1994. (184) Nonetheless, teen mothers and young single mothers who are alone due to separation or divorce are among Canada’s poorest families. Without help and support over an extended period of time, these young mothers become trapped in a cycle of poverty and decreased opportunities for educational advancement.

Gender socialization that promotes stereotyping plays a key role in how young people learn to relate and to develop a stable sense of self-identity. Generally, men have more difficulties than women in forming intimate relationships. Young men are more likely than young women to avoid dealing with problems that arise in relationships or to even admit that a problem exists. Failure to develop the capacity for intimacy in males has been linked to sexually offending and aggressive behaviour against women. (300)

Identity formation in adolescence may be particularly difficult for gay and lesbian youth who have few role models or opportunities to explore who they are. Racism, alienation from one’s culture, and discrimination against young people with disabilities also impede young people’s ability to develop stable personal identities which allows them to form healthy relationships with others.

While the family life experience is critical in learning how to develop healthy relationships, societal influences in education, media and sport and recreation systems can also have a positive or negative effect on how people learn to form and maintain relationships.

Positive relationships with peers, family members and other adults help to prepare young people for intimacy and family life. Young people who have positive self-esteem, good decision-making skills and a sense of commitment and emotional autonomy tend to be most successful in intimate relationships.

Parenting has been called one of life’s greatest challenges, yet few young people get any formal training in parenting skills. Fortunately, the trend to later parenthood means that young people are more mature as first-time parents. There is a growing interest and acceptance of young fathers playing a more active parenting role than the generation before them. At the same time, however, young women and mothers are repeatedly shown to shoulder the majority of the parenting, caregiving and household management responsibilities. This increases young women’s experience of fatigue and stress and is sometimes a detriment to their career paths.

Young people and their family situations

• The vast majority of adolescents abetween the ages of 15 and 19 are unmarried (99 percent). Among females between the ages of 20 and 24, 18 percent are married; 8 percent of males between the ages of 20 and 24 are married. However, in 1991, 23 percent of women between the ages of 12 and 24 and 14 percent of men between 15 and 24 lived in common-law relationships.

• Eighty-two percent of males and 84 percent of females between the ages of 15 and 24 live in families. Those that do not live in families, live alone or with non-relatives such as roommates.

• Six percent of women between the ages of aged 15 and 24 and one percent of men the same age are lone parents.

• In 1993, 6 percent of births in Canada were to young women between 15 and 19 years of age; 19 percent of births were to women 20 to 24. The majority of births occur among women between the ages of 25 and 34.

• In 1992, 30% of therapeutic abortions performed in hospitals involved women between 20 and 24 (highest percentage of all age groups); 19% of abortions involved 15 to 19 year-old women.

• Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are the most likely to experience family violence.

Estimates of young people living on the streets in Toronto range from 5,000 in winter to 12,000 in summer.

Sources: Report on the Health of Canadians (Technical Appendix, 1996) and National Forum on Health, What Determines Health. (139)

Key influences on the positive outcome: Prepared for intimacy and family life.

 
Opportunities to develop an integrated, stable sense of identity
 

Opportunitities to develop positive relationships

 

Gender and role socialization

 
Opportunities to overcome circumstances that lead to troubled relationships

Note: These influences are also listed in the drop-down menu above. Please use this menu to navigate within this page.


Opportunities to develop an integrated, stable sense of identity

Adolescence is characterized by a (sometimes troubled) search for identity. As young people reach adulthood, a more stable sense of self emerges. This does not mean that young adults have all the answers. Many are still searching for a vocation and a role in society. For most, the switch from identifying primarily with one’s family of origin to one’s new family of procreation is several years away.

Many make tentative steps into adulthood — leaving the family home but delaying the creation of a separate home through school, travel or temporary jobs. In a depressed job market, more and more young adults are returning home to save money in order to pursue further studies or job training. Each step of the way, however, they build self-sufficiency, autonomy and a clearer sense of who they are as individuals distinct from their family of origin. Over time, healthy young adults feel confidant enough about their own identity to establish a give-and-take relationship with their parents that signals a mature sense of both independence and interdependence.

Adolescents’ struggles with sexual orientation may have an effect on their subsequent ability to form intimate relationships. Gay and lesbian youth may lack the support and opportunities they need to clarify their gay identity in adolescence. (301) Fear of stigmatization keeps many gay and lesbian youth from exploring their identity and discrimination based on sexual orientation can lead to isolation that impacts on their ability to form intimate relationships in later life.

Gender and culture are important influences on identity formation. Adolescents growing up in immigrant, refugee or indigenous families may experience a crisis in identity due to a lack of continuity with past traditions or because of a clash between old and new cultures. Young people need to understand and be involved in their culture of origin while still being free to experience an adolescence and young adulthood that is similar to their peers.


 

Adults in a parenting role have a significant impact on the development of self-identity and self-esteem in adolescence and young adulthood. Parental support, interest and involvement is particularly important. When parents are uninvolved, children develop negative self-concepts. Indeed, indifference has been found to be more damaging than physical punishment or rejection. (247)

In a home where parents provide affection, respect, challenge, opportunities for success, and freedom to make choices within clearly defined limits, children and adolescents are likely to develop positive feelings of self-worth and competence. In a home that lacks empathy, communication and trust, or in a home where children experience neglect, unresolved conflict or abuse, they are deprived of their most important source of praise and comfort. They are likely to feel unimportant and negative about themselves.

One of the most difficult challenges for the parents of teenagers is the matter of discipline. Part of an adolescent’s quest for independence is rebelling, experimenting and arguing with parents. Parents need to allow age-appropriate freedoms while applying discipline techniques that are firm but not coercive (do not bully or shame the young person).

  • Establish limits or boundaries of acceptability. These may be related to the treatment of others, the value of honesty, respect for other’s property, and expectations for completing chores, homework, etc

  • Acknowledge feelings of anxiety in times of family crisis, for example, separation or divorce. Reassure young people that they are loved and encourage them to talk about their feelings.

  • Seek help immediately if you or your children are exposed to family violence and/or abuse.

  • Recognize your teens' individuality — their particular strengths and efforts.

  • Show affection, love and respect.

  • Encourage realistic self-evaluation.

  • Provide opportunities and support for participation in sport, physical activity and skill-building activities. These activities have been shown to have a positive effect on self-esteem. (252)

  • Encourage young people to participate in activities related to their culture of origin and to learn about cultural traditions.

  • Help young people develop short-term, achievable goals and praise them when they succeed.

  • Help youth learn to deal with stress and to feel in control of their emotions when they are under pressure.

  • Use discipline that is firm but not coercive (do not bully or shame adolescents or withhold age-appropriate freedoms). Harsh, coercive parenting is associated with antisocial behaviour, academic problems, peer rejection and depression. (247)

  • Confront conflicts directly and use negotiation to resolve them.

  • Create a school environment that promotes optimal growth and positive self-esteem.

  • Work with community partners to provide mental health counselling for students who are feeling depressed and confused, experiencing violence or exhibiting signs of eating disorders and other problems related to self-identity.

  • Emphasize the strengths of a multicultural society and provide culturally sensitive education.

  • Adopt zero tolerance policies for racism, sexism, harassment and discrimination based on religion, sexual preference and ability.

  • Ensure that teachers and coaches understand child development and how to support positive self-esteem through clearly-defined limits, appropriate discipline techniques and the liberal use of praise and encouragement.

  • Provide opportunities for student involvement and leadership development.

  • Encourage a sense of ownership and belonging.

  • Provide opportunities for academic and social success.

  • Help young people set short-term, achievable goals and praise them when they succeed.


 Implement programs to prevent child abuse and family violence.

  • Provide accessible, fun, skill-building recreation programming for young people (physical activities and non-athletic activities). Ensure that disadvantaged children and youth are not excluded from mainstream activities because they cannot afford the equipment or program fees.

  • Actively involve young people in recreational activities and provide them with opportunities to develop leadership skills and roles.

  • Include youth in the development and operation of community services. The City of Vancouver Civic Youth Strategy involves youths as active partners in the development and delivery of civic services that have a direct impact on young people.

  • Involve youth in community planning and the operation of community facilities. In Surrey, British Columbia, young people helped to design Bear Creek Park and will be in charge of running it.

  • Make mental health counselling and other services easily accessible to young people and parents.

  • Provide cultural activities that help young people identify with their cultures of origin.

  • Adopt and enforce a zero tolerance policy for racism and discrimination based on gender, religion, ability, ethnicity and sexual preference in all youth activities. Help youth who overstep these boundaries to learn alternative ways to deal with diversity.

  • Provide support and activities for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. The Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth Project is one example.

 

  • Sponsor science fairs and community activities for young people that challenge and reward them.

  • Sponsor sport teams and other community activities for children and youth (money and staff involvement).

  • Provide employee assistance programs (EAP) for young employees. Include counselling on parenting practices and help for parents in situations involving family violence.



 Actively involve youth in decisions, policies and programs that affect them; provide them with opportunities to develop leadership skills and take on leadership roles. Child Friendly Calgary’s Youth Volunteer Corps and Youth Advisory Committee to the Mayor gives young people a voice in civic affairs.

  • Support/fund coalition building among youth-serving agencies, schools and parent groups.

Opportunities to develop positive relationships


Children need to establish stable attachments, first to their parents and then to peers and other adults, in order to learn how to make stable attachments as adults. When family relationships are jeopardized by neglect, abuse or conflict, young people have trouble forming healthy relationships in adulthood.

Although there is no substitute for a caring parent, young people can still thrive if some responsible person steps in to meet their developmental needs. Teachers, older adolescents, adult leaders (for example, coaches, Scout or Girl Guide leaders, activity instructors), spiritual leaders and adult friends of the family can have a positive influence on a young person’s self-esteem and developing sense of independence. So can extended family members, such as aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers. This is called mentoring. Older citizens who offer sustained support may be particularly good mentors. Mentoring a young person is not an easy task but it can bring new meaning to the mentor’s life as well. For more information on mentoring, see Understanding Mentoring Relationships.

Peer mentoring and peer counselling offer young people an opportunity to form meaningful attachments to peers and helpers who are slightly older than themselves. A peer mentor provides advice and emotional support and sometimes, assistance with academic subjects. Peer mentoring can take place in the school or the community. In both cases, it is important to provide peer mentors with the training they need to be effective. Self-help and support groups can also help young people talk out issues related to self-esteem.

Peer relations are one of the primary means for young people to acquire the social and living skills they need to make a successful transition to intimate relationships, family life and parenting. One of the task of early adulthood is to find a social group of friends who compliment and enhance one’s uniqueness.

Another task of adulthood is learning to be independent and interdependent at the same time. Young adult’s relationships with their parents change dramatically after they leave home. Sometimes, young people reject their family of origin but in most cases they learn to achieve a healthy sense of autonomy while maintaining respect for their parents way of life.

Recent trends show that many young people are postponing a move from the family home. In 1991, about two-thirds of young adults between the ages 20 and 24 — 71 percent of men and 63 percent of women — lived with at least one parent. Some had never left while others had left and then returned, mainly for financial reasons. (184)

Managing a home, whether you live alone, with roommates or with an intimate partner is a major organizational task: paying bills, organizing time for meals, work, school, socializing, entertaining , transportation, etc. When children are added, it means coping with child care 24 hours a day, which is especially difficult for single parents.

Fortunately, increasing numbers of young people are delaying parenting until they are more ready to take it on . There is also a healthy tendency for young men to be more involved with their children. However, many young people are poorly prepared to take on the parenting role. Very young parents in particular need help in dealing with the stresses associated with parenting.


  • Encourage young people to socialize with friends and other trustworthy adults outside of the family, and to join activities at school and in the community that are led by trusted adults and peers.

  • Make connections with other parents.

  • Don’t rely on your children for friendship. Set an example by maintaining friendships with people outside of the immediate family.

  • Encourage young people (both men and women) to look after young children and to learn home management and childcare skills.

  • Recognize that sibling conflict can escalate into abuse and have serious consequences for adjustment in later life. Spend time with each of your children and recognize the unique achievements of each. Intervene if one sibling is regularly victimized.

  • Provide opportunities for teens and young people to learn prosocial life skills such as conflict resolution and problem solving.

  • Talk about problems, feelings and emotional issues in the home.

  • Be a good role model. Be tolerant and accepting of other people. Don’t allow family members to discriminate against others on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, ability or sexual preference.

  • Seek help immediately if you and/or your children are exposed to sexual abuse or family violence.

  • Use discipline that is firm but not coercive (do not bully or shame adolescents or withhold age-appropriate freedoms). Hostile parenting has a negative effect on young people’s social relationships and helping behaviour.

  • Establish quality relationships and commitments in your own life. This is especially important if you and your children have been through a hostile divorce or separation.


  • Create a school climate that encourages mentoring. For more information on mentoring, see Understanding Mentoring Relationships.

  • Provide opportunities for peer counselling and peer mentoring. For more information on peer mentoring, see The Peer Helping Annotated and Indexed Bibliography and the School-Wide Peer Helping Program at Runneymede Collegiate Institute in Toronto.

  • Work with community health and social service agencies to ensure that young people who have been exposed to abuse can get counselling and support.

  • Provide in-school and after-school opportunities for young people to learn prosocial skills and cooperation, for example, volunteer work, activities that stress fun and a sense of belonging.

  • Provide opportunities for students to take leadership roles and to make meaningful decisions about activities and policies in the school.

  • Provide opportunities for students (both men and women) to learn home management and childcare skills through assignments to daycare centres and other activities.

  • Make learning life skills such as decision-making, problem solving and conflict resolution part of the school experience or curriculum.

  • Teach students how to solve interpersonal problems in a non-violent, productive way. This can include programs in conflict resolution, assertiveness training and peer mediation (trained, neutral schoolmates who help other students resolve conflicts) and anger management.

  • Address racism, sexism and prejudice against religion and sexual preference. STAR (Students Against Racism) includes groups of students who assert that racism and prejudice are unacceptable in school.

  • Monitor the safety of the school environment and take action immediately if bullying, threatening or harassment occurs.For more information on a model school violence prevention activity, see ASAP: A School-Based Antiviolence Program.

  • Provide media literacy programs that teach children to discount stereotyping about gender roles, gays, lesbians, ethnic minorities, older people and people with disabilities.

  • Sponsor programs to prevent family violence and provide help to families experiencing violence in the home.

  • Work with schools to develop violence prevention programs such as ASAP: A School-Based Antiviolence Program.

  • Provide recreation programs and activities that promote healthy relationships.

  • Support mentoring programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Ensure that staff of youth-serving programs and agencies understand the importance of mentoring.

  • Support intergenerational initiatives that link children and older citizens.

  • Provide opportunities for young people (both men and women) to learn home management and childcare skills through assignments to daycare centres and other activities. The Daybreak Healthy Babies Club in Newfoundland provides young parents with an opportunity to learn home management skills in a supportive environment. The Parents Companion Program teams young parents with more experienced ones.

  • Support peer-led activities and provide training for peer leaders.

  • Provide parenting programs and courses to enhance family functioning.

  • Provide opportunities for families to strengthen cultural ties.

  • Adopt and enforce a zero tolerance policy for racism and discrimination based on gender, religion, ability, ethnicity and sexual preference in all youth activities.

  • Provide support and activities for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. The Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth Project is one example.

  • Encourage young people from minority groups and from mainstream populations to reach out to newcomers. The Teen Host Program is one example of this.

  • Encourage children and teens to write for local papers and participate in local television and radio shows. Provide a space for them to publish or broadcast their views.

  • Advocate media coverage that portrays healthy young people in leadership and prosocial roles. Encourage and support media outlets that show teenagers in a positive light and that show that the community values young people.

  • Protest media coverage that is sexist or stereotypes minority groups.

  • Work with communities, schools and governments to fund and support exemplary prevention programs. See ASAP: A School-Based Antiviolence Program for a good example of this kind of collaboration.

  • Consider setting up a mentoring program with retired or current staff and children who have an interest in the area of work that your business deals with.

  • Provide family-friendly work policies and support for very young parents.

  • Sponsor the development, evaluation and sharing of best practice interventions that prevent violence in the home, school and community.

  • Provide guidelines for programming directed at youth and encourage the development of self-regulating guidelines in the media industry.

  • Sponsor media campaigns and programs that portray youth in leadership and prosocial roles.

  • Set a good example in all government communications. Show the multicultural diversity we enjoy in Canada as a strength and advantage.



Gender and role socialization

Gender socialization that does not encourage mutual respect is a major obstacle to young men and women’s ability to form intimate partnerships. Traditional social conditioning in strict gender roles does a disservice to both men and women. Young men are not encouraged to develop the capacity for intimacy that is required in adulthood; harassment and violence against women is one outcome of this. The National Survey on Violence Against Women revealed that women under the age of 24 are most likely to be victims of abuse, particularly if they are in marriages or common-law unions of less than two years. (305)

Young people need exposure to people, programs and policies that demonstrate progressive, positive and egalitarian attitudes toward gender roles and gender socialization.

While young children are most influenced by family members, peers and factors in media, sport and recreational systems become increasingly important as children go through adolescence and young adulthood. For example, the Dating Violence Survey sponsored by Carleton University stressed the importance of changing attitudes not just among young men who abuse but also among their friends in order that they do not provide positive reinforcement for abusive behaviour. (307)

Many young women, on the other hand, are socialized to believe that they are responsible for the success of social relationships and that this is more important than pursuing personal educational or career goals. Those that do pursue careers tend to believe that they must be "superwomen" who do it all — demanding careers, managing an intimate relationship, parenting and assuming the main responsibility for home management. This can be devastating for young women’s mental health and social well-being.

  • Avoid gender-stereotyping and encourage young women to take on non-traditional roles.

  • Model respectful, egalitarian relationships at home and share responsibilities with your partner.

  • Seek help immediately if you find yourself in a situation involving family violence.

  • Talk with adolescent women and men about gender violence and the importance of making it clear that it is unacceptable in any form (psychological and verbal abuse are good predictors of physical abuse).

  • Encourage young men (as well as young women) to learn skills relating to childcare and home management. Talk with young men and women about the need to share household and childcare responsibilities.

  • Support media that promotes sexual equality and shows young men in nontraditional, nurturing roles. Protest media that portrays sexism and violence against women as acceptable or normal.

  • Provide family life education for boys as well as girls. Make sure that school covers the four Rs – reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and relationships.

  • Adopt gender equity policies that encourage mutual respect and apply them in all curricular and extracurricular activities. For example, teen women often complain of harassment by young men in physical education and sport settings.

  • Provide young women and young men with information on dating violence, how to avoid it and how to deal with it.

  • Involve students in influencing other students to reduce violent behaviour. For example, Making Waves trains grade 11 students to be peer educators about dating violence.

  • Provide incentives and support for young women to take courses in science and mathematics that will lead to nontraditional careers.

  • Provide young men (as well as young women) with opportunities to learn skills relating to childcare and home management.

  • Work with community agencies to develop violence prevention programs such as ASAP: A School-Based Antiviolence Program.

  • Offer courses in media literacy that helps students learn how to recognize and discount sexism in music videos, and television, etc.



  • Adopt and apply gender equity policies that encourage mutual respect and discourage gender inequities and harassment in all community activities.

  • Provide young men (as well as young women) with opportunities to learn skills relating to childcare and home management.

  • Work with community agencies to develop violence prevention programs such as ASAP: A School-Based Antiviolence Program.

  • Support community-based antiviolence programs. For more information or descriptions of several model programs, contact the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence.

  • Adopt and enforce gender-equity policies and policies prohibiting discrimination, and harassment of any kind in services and activities involving children and youth.

  • Recognize young women and young men who achieve in nontradional roles.

  • Provide opportunities for young fathers to learn the skills they need to be more involved in pregnancy, caring for a young child and household management. The Daybreak Healthy Babies Club in Newfoundland provides young parents with an opportunity to learn home management skills in a supportive environment. In Rediscovering the Traditional Mother, a program for young Aboriginal women, one of the key recommendations from participants was to include men and to have similar programs for young fathers.


  • Adopt and enforce gender equity and non-harassment policies.

  • Give support to both women and men in their roles as parents through initiatives such as flexible work schedules, assistance with child care, family leave and the promotion of more equal sharing of domestic responsibilities between men and women.

  • Ensure that all young parents have access to high-quality, affordable childcare.

  • Be an exemplary employer. Give support to both women and men in their roles as parents through initiatives such as flexible work schedules, assistance with child care, family leave and the promotion of more equal sharing of domestic responsibilities between men and women.



Opportunities to overcome circumstances that lead to troubled relationships

A number of circumstances increase the likelihood that young people will have difficulty in forming and maintaining intimate relationships. These include child sexual abuse, living in care and teen pregnancy and young parenting.

Sexual abuse experienced in childhood poses a serious threat to a young person’s ability to form successful intimate relationships in their adolescent and adult years. Teen survivors of abuse who associate intimacy with danger are confronted with intense conflicts in adolescence. They want to be accepted by peers but are afraid of what increased trust and intimacy may mean. Adult survivors of child sexual abuse often describe feelings of social isolation, distrust of others, a history of unstable (often abusive) relationships, marital and sexual difficulties, and difficulties parenting and loving their children. (302)

Moving from family to family does not allow children and young people in care to develop the trusting attachments and bonds to parents and siblings that are prerequisites to building one’s capacity to form intimate relationships as an adult. Caregivers need to be properly trained to deal with troubled young people and to have the resources and support they need to be stable foster parents over an extended period of time. Stability is also reinforced by matching the cultural backgrounds of the caregivers and young person in care and by providing a stable case worker or advocate who stays with a young person over time.

Current policies that automatically exclude young people from care after their eighteenth birthday do not provide the support that young people need in the transition from home to living on their own. They require the same kind of support (and options to return home) that other young people take for granted.

Early pregnancy jeopardizes both the health of the parents and the child. Information and support for family planning should be part of all school curriculums, and it should be discussed at home and in youth-led groups. It is also important to support teens and young people that do become parents. Raising a child in one’s teens or early twenties can deprive young mothers (and sometimes fathers) of their education and normal interaction with peers. Schools that provide accommodations for young parents to continue their education help to prevent them from becoming trapped by poverty and limited opportunities. Community agencies also play an important role in supporting pregnant teens and young parents.

  • Talk with your physician or a counsellor about getting help if you are a victim of child sexual abuse. It can have a negative effect on your ability to form intimate relationships with your children and your ability to help them learn how to have healthy relationships.

  • Talk with adolescents about family planning and the responsibility of parenting.

  • Support young people who do become young parents.

  • Recognize that sibling conflict can escalate into abuse and have serious consequences for adjustment in later life. Spend time with each of your children and recognize the unique achievements of each. Intervene if one sibling is regularly victimized.

  • Establish quality relationships and commitments in your own life. This is especially important if you and your children have been through a hostile divorce or separation.

  • Collaborate with community agencies to help young men and women who have been sexually abused as children to get help.

  • Provide instruction in family planning and facilitate access to condoms and other family planning methods.

  • Help young parents stay in school by providing daycare on site. The Fredericton High School Student Parent Program is one example of such a program. Support community programs such as The Special Delivery Club which support pregnant teens.

  • Ensure that foster parents have a good understanding of healthy child development. Try to link children with foster families who share a common cultural, geographic and economic background. One example of this is the Inner City Foster Parents Program in downtown Eastside Vancouver.

  • Undertake comprehensive policies and programs to prevent child sexual abuse.

  • Increase support for survivors of sexual abuse in their roles as parents (both men and women). Unless survivors can overcome their fear of intimate attachments, their children will grow up with similar attachment problems and consequent problems in forming intimate relationships.

  • Provide access to family planning help for young people in settings that are not stigmatizing or threatening to young people.

  • Ensure that all young parents have access to the basic needs and support for childcare that they require. The Daybreak Healthy Babies Club and the Parents Companion program are two examples of innovative programs that provide this kind of support.

  • Provide culturally sensitive, age specific support to young pregnant women (and their partners). Three good examples of this are The BABY Project, Rediscovering the Traditional Mother and The Special Delivery Club.

  • Work with communities and schools to help young single mothers train for and get meaningful jobs.

  • Provide educational sessions on parenting and home management skills for young workers.

  • Provide employeeassistance programs (EAP) and referrals to help in the community for employees who have been sexually abused.

  • Work with governments to develop employability programs for victims of child sexual abuse. See the Bridges Employability Program as an example.

  • Support family planning and full access to family planning help for young people in environments that are not stigmatizing or threatening to young people.

  • Support comprehensive policies and programs to prevent child sexual abuse.

  • Provide adequate, culturally sensitive support and training for families looking after young people in care.

  • Put policies in place that allow young people in care to remain in care past the age of 18 so that they can pursue further studies, training and job experience.

  • Fund community-school-workplace coalitions that support young parents and parents-to-be.

  • Ensure that all young parents have access to the basic needs and support for childcare that they require.

  • Provide incentives to schools, workplaces and communities to help young single mothers train for and get meaningful jobs.

  • Work with employers to develop employability programs for victims of child sexual abuse. See the Bridges Employability Program as an example.


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