Sexual Health Policy

Door 84 Sexual Health Policy

The purpose and scope of this policy statement:

 Door 84 Youth and Community Centre works with directly with children, young people & community members and where possible in partnership with their families / carers. These include:  Open Access Youth Sessions, Community Open Days, day trips and residentials, remote supervision, residential trips, specific project work, mentoring, one to one support working and building users. This policy is to read in conjunction with our safeguarding policy and other related policies within the safeguarding category.

All of the above will be referred o for the purpose of the policy as ‘participants.’

The aim of this policy statement is:

Throughout this policy, references are made to other policies and procedures and National policies and guidelines. It is recommended that Youth Workers familiarise themselves with these before undertaking any sexual health work with Young People.

The YorOK Children’s Trust believes young people should have the information, knowledge and skills in order to make informed decisions.  In order to facilitate this we aim to give guidance to Youth Workers and all those that work with Young People. Training is available to inform workers of current information and legislation such as:

  • Sexual Health ‘Delay’ Training
  • Basic Sexual Health
  • Condom Distribution
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Safeguarding (Child Protection)
  • Common Assessment Framework and Integrated Working.

*At any one time, at least one member of staff will have attended or be booked onto the next available training date available of all of the above training.

All staff and volunteers will be expected to be cleared with an Enhanced DBS and take up Safeguarding Training.

Relationships

  • Staying safe
  • Risk taking behaviour
  • Sexual Health
  • The Delay message
  • Substance-Misuse

Youth Workers should be:

  • Competent and confident and able to engage in conversation on the

above issues

  • Able to seek accurate, up-to-date information or know where to sign post for the

Information that is needed

  • Be honest with Young People about their knowledge base
  • Be objective and professional and seek advice from colleagues within

Door 84 and other services available across York if needed, who have  more experience and knowledge

· Offer support and information to YP to enable them to access other services

  • Know their own limits and be able to set boundaries and have of personal disclosure and

confidentiality within their roles

  • Have clear understanding of informal education and its process

We do not expect workers to:

  • Have all the answers
  • Judge or give their personal opinions on these subject areas.
  • Be experts

Condom Distribution

In order to do condom distribution for Door 84 you will need to have been trained in the following:

 

  • Condom Distribution
  • Basic Sexual Health

 

*The guidelines on condom distribution are given in training. If you distribute condoms to young people you are responsible for monitoring your work and distribution

Yor-Sexual Health Clinic

Contact the Yor-Sexual Health Clinic for current guidelines, support and opening hours for these services they provide and have regular contact with the Workers there, we would aim for Sexual Health Workers to visit the Youth Sessions at least four times a year to keep contact with the Workers and Young People.

Youth Workers (paid and trained) can go with Young People to support them to the Clinic at an agreed time. They MUST arrange this prior with the Young Person and inform other members of the team before visiting. If they are returning when Door 84 is closed, they must text/call to inform another member of staff that the contact has ended.

The role of a Youth Worker

Sexual health is an important part of Young People’s personal and social development. The role of the Youth Worker is to provide accurate information, to enable Young People to make informed choices with regard to their sexual health. Sexual health is not just about contraception or avoiding infection; it is about recognising positive relationships, encouraging people to consider the needs and feelings of themselves and their partners, and avoiding physical or mental harm or suffering.

For further guidance on the role of the youth worker see – Enabling Young People to Access Contraceptive and Sexual Health Services.  DFES (2005).

Youth workers will encourage young people to:

  • Be aware of and feel comfortable with their sexuality
  • Consider the needs and feelings of their partner
  • Neither exploit nor be exploited
  • Discuss their relationship with their partner
  • Not have a sexual relationship if they feel they are not ready for one
  • Practice safe sex to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

The Law

This policy has been updated to reflect the contents of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which became law in May 2004.

The law surrounding sex and sexual activity, particularly where it involves young people, can be complex and confusing. Any work relating to sexual health is addressing issues which are not only personal and emotional, but can have legal implications as well – meaning that the area is an even more sensitive one to tackle. For this reason, it is appropriate that youth workers and young people should have access to impartial information about their rights, quite separately from any moral decisions about their lives or their choices. This is why this sexual health policy includes a summary of aspects of the law relating to sexual health. It should not be seen as a list of behaviours that youth workers should or should not condone.

Grooming

England and Wales

It is an offence to befriend a child on the internet or by other online means and meet or intend to meet the child with the intention of abusing them. A Risk of Sexual Harm Order can be imposed on adults in order to prevent them from engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior such as having sexual conversations with children online. The police can apply for such orders if they believe that someone poses a risk to young people under 16.

Pornography and images of child abuse

In England and Wales, there is no standard legal definition of the term ‘pornography’. However, legal guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service[8]  says that an image is pornographic if it can be reasonably assumed that it was produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography is legal as long as those who appear in it are aged 18 or over and as long as it does not contain anything defined as extreme pornographic imagery (see below).

A judge or jury determines whether an image is pornographic or not simply by looking at the image. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (England, Northern Ireland and Wales) made it an offence to possess an extreme pornographic image. An extreme image is defined in the Act as one which is ‘grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character’ and if it portrays in an explicit and realistic way any of the following:

(a) an act which threatens a person’s life;
(b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals;
(c) any sexual activity or interference with a human corpse;
(d) any sexual activity between a person and an animal.

In Scotland, extreme pornography is defined by the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. The definition is similar to that in England, Wales and Northern Ireland but also includes “an act which takes or threatens a person’s life” and “rape or other non-consensual penetrative activity”.

The law covers images whether they are moving or still images.

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 introduced new legislation covering pornography made and distributed in the UK through video on demand and streaming services. This type of pornography must only show material which would meet the criteria for an R18 certificate under British Board of Film Classification guidelines. If the material has received, or would be expected to receive, an R18 rating it can only be distributed if steps are taken to ensure people under 18 will not normally see or hear it.

The Protection of Children Act 1978 with the Criminal Justice Act 1988 make it an offence for anyone to take, allow to be taken, possess, show, distribute or publish any indecent image of a child. A child is defined as anyone aged under 18 for the purposes of these Acts.

Definitions of some common terms

Consent

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 for England and Wales says that a person consents to something if that person ‘agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice’.

Northern Ireland defines consent as a person having the capacity to make a choice.

Scotland: ‘free agreement’. An offence will have taken place if the victim did not consent, or the accused had no reasonable belief that they consented.

The laws of each UK country also allow for a range of circumstances which may affect a person’s capacity to freely consent, such as when they are asleep or have been subject to threats or violence.

Sexual

England and Wales: penetration, touching or any other activity is sexual if a reasonable person would think that it is, by nature, sexual (for example, sexual intercourse or masturbation). An activity would also be sexual where the circumstances or purpose of the person carrying out the activity make it sexual. For example, someone who deliberately strokes the genital region of someone else, even if fully clothed, can have sexual intent which would make this activity a sexual act.

Northern Ireland: covers activity that the reasonable person would always consider to be sexual because of its nature, such as sexual intercourse.

Scotland: if a reasonable person would, in all the circumstances of the case, consider it to be sexual.

Age of Consent

The law states that people who are aged 16 or over may consent to sexual activity with each other, unless their relationship falls into one of the other categories mentioned in this document. “Sexual activity” does not only refer to intercourse: it covers all behaviours that could reasonably be interpreted as sexual, even if physical contact is not involved.

If one or both of the partners is under 16, and they have both consented, one of the following offences will apply:

 

  • Where one partner is 18 or over, and the other is under 16, the adult could be convicted of “adult sexual activity with a child”.
  • Where one partner is under 18 and the other is under 16, either partner could be convicted of “sexual activity between minors”. Note that this includes situations in which both partners are under 16.
  • Where one of the partners is under 13, they are legally judged to be incapable of giving consent. The older partner could therefore be convicted of rape (or a less severe crime, depending on the sexual activity).

 

For the first two offences, there may be a defence if the older partner “reasonably believes” the younger partner to be 16 or over. This will never apply if either partner is under 13.

 

These criteria are the same regardless of the sex of either partner.

 

For further guidance see the section on Child Protection.

 

Good Practice & Confidentiality

Young people under 16, including those under 13, have the same right to confidentiality as adults.

If a youth worker wishes to pass on information, they should seek permission from the young person to do so. There are exceptional circumstances where confidentiality cannot be maintained – they are defined as being where:

  • A young person is in a life-threatening situation;
  • Inaction might place them / someone else in a life-threatening situation;
  • A young person is being abused;
  • Inaction could lead to someone else being harmed.

See also Door 84’s Confidentiality and Information Sharing Policy

Child Protection

It is essential that no promise of confidentiality is given when a Young Person is disclosing information with regard to abuse of any kind.  If a referral is to be made and it is safe and appropriate to do so, the young person must be informed.  As soon as any worker feels that there may be a cause for concern, they should begin to consult with the Manager on Duty who will also inform the Manager/other Managers. It may then be that an official procedure will be instigated, and the role of the Youth Worker should be to support the Young Person through this. They should also seek support for themselves, from their Manager or another part of the Management Team.

If a Youth Worker discovers, or is told about, any sexual activity with a child under the age of 13, this will always constitute a child protection issue. In this situation, the Manager or part of the Management Team should contact the City of York Safeguarding Children Board immediately.

See also the Door 84’s Child Protection Policy

Parental Consent

Youth Workers do not have to seek permission or inform parents/carers that sex education/sexual health discussions are taking place although it is regularly on the Activity Plan under ‘Healthy Relationships’.

Condom Distribution

Only workers who have undertaken the Young People’s Services sexual health training may distribute condoms. However, it is also recommended that all workers attend this training if possible.

Condoms can be distributed, even to young people under 16, without parental consent or knowledge. However, because giving contraceptives constitutes actual treatment rather than simply advice and information, it is especially important that youth workers satisfy themselves that they are acting responsibly and in the young person’s best interests and follow the Young People’s Services Guidelines on Condom Distribution. This is covered in more detail in sexual health training. A list of questions that may be helpful to consider is also included as an appendix to this policy.

While it is fine for workers to distribute condoms having considered the above, it is generally a good idea also to encourage young people to access sexual health or family planning services in the future.

Policy Implications

  • Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Working with Sexually Active Young People
  • Enabling Young People to Access Contraception and Sexual Health Services. DFES 2005
  • Confidentiality
  • Training needs for staff.

Accept your limitations

As youth workers and youth support workers we are not professional health workers. If there are any areas you are unsure about, contact your line manager or the Health Co-ordinator (with the consent of the young person). If in doubt, don’t feel you have to make a decision on your own. Know your limitations. This policy is here to support you; it exists to safeguard you, the Young People’s Services and the young people you work with.

APPENDIX

MAKING THE RIGHT DECISION

Much of this policy is based on the fact that youth workers should always be working in the young person’s best interests. In sexual health work, as in other areas, youth workers need to feel confident that their actions have been justifiable and professional. These lists are provided to help with this. Although they do not form a strict part of the current law or Young People’s services policy, they may serve as useful guidelines for workers to bear in mind when talking to young people.

(a) “Fraser Guidelines aka Gillick competence”

This concept dates from a 1985 court case in which a judge, Lord Fraser, issued criteria under which doctors may provide contraceptive advice or treatment to young people under 16 without parental knowledge. This would be acceptable provided that the doctor was satisfied that:

  • the young person understood the advice;
  • the young person could not be persuaded to tell their parent(s), or to allow the doctor to tell their parent(s), that they were seeking contraceptive advice;
  • the young person was likely to begin or continue to have sex, with or without contraceptive treatment/advice;
  • the young person’s physical or mental health were likely to suffer unless they received the treatment/advice;
  • it was in the young person’s best interests to be given the treatment/advice.

These guidelines then formed the basis of the law on giving sexual health advice to under-16s. A young person who fulfilled the criteria was said to be “Gillick competent”, after Victoria Gillick, the mother who brought the issue to court.

(b) The “Barnardo’s questions”

These questions are designed to provide clues as to whether a young woman is in an abusive relationship, which may eventually amount to child prostitution. In these cases, young people tend to be systematically cut off from their friends and family.

– Has your boyfriend got a car?                 – Does he give you presents?

– Are your friends envious of you? – Are you in touch regularly with your friends?

– Do you spend any time at home with the family?

These questions can also apply to young men.

None of these is a definite indicator that something is wrong, and it’s unlikely that a worker would actually ask all of these questions. However, keeping an eye out for these issues may be helpful in spotting warning signs and seeking advice.

This information should not be seen as a substitute for proper sexual health training.

We are committed to reviewing our policy and good practice annually and will amend more frequently should legislation or reflective practice highlight the need for amendments.

 

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