Who listens to young people

Whilst it’s lovely to hear how schools, colleges and universities are supporting our young people, does this really address what support young people would choose for themselves? Are young people really being listened to? Do we as parents always listen well?

who can your children talk to to get things off their chest. ListenI had a fascinating chat today with an organisation looking to set up a Listening service in schools, as it’s “what the schools are asking for”. Personally, I think that listening services are needed in all communities, as not everyone has someone they can off-load to, or talk to, about what’s on their mind. You know that when you “get something off your chest” you feel better, but not everyone has the opportunity to tell someone else. This can build up over time, until a crisis happens, or, quite often, it affects a person’s mental health.

It got me thinking though. I trust our teachers and education experts. I trust youth workers, and researchers. However, if a listening service, (or something similar) is set up in a school, will the young people want to use it, and just because leadership teams think it’s a good idea, is this the type of support young people want in school?

Schools and colleges have a whole raft of support systems and services, both in school and from external partners to support young people. I personally know some counsellors who work in schools. There are learning mentors. There’s youth workers. Careers advisers, achievement specialists, and whole raft of other support available. Is a listening service really needed?

From the outside, and looking at this logically, to me, listening allows the young person to use that listening ‘space’ to talk about anything they want. A lot of the other services are quite focused and may be looking helping the young person move from x to y.

But do young people understand what ‘listening’ is? Have many of our children experienced really good listening, so would say, “yes! I would benefit from that!”. Or, is this a service that may sound good when we’re discussing it, but when we put it into practice it may not be quite what’s needed? Have we got a lot of educating to do with young people, (and parents and teachers), for this to really benefit them in the way we know it helps adults who access listening services?

I can see it from all sides. But I’m not a young person, so I can’t see it from their point of view.

What’s your view? What support do young people want? Is having someone to listen to them (or to talk to about anything they like), a good idea?


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