As well as teachers and employers, you will have dealings with adults in all sorts of other ways – as your sports coach, neighbour, religious leader, guides organiser, social worker, doctor, nurse, volunteering colleague, mentor, as well as your friends’ parents and carers (and your parents’ and carers’ friends).
It is generally best to keep a certain distance between yourself and adults outside your family, especially at first, and especially when you are young. Sometimes rewarding friendships can develop between people of different ages but you need to learn to trust your own judgement.
Keep to the key relationship: treat them as your coach or social worker or colleague, or whatever they are, rather than as your friend. Most organisations where adults come into regular contact with children will have strict safeguarding guidelines for the adults to follow, but it is important that you look after yourself too:
- Do not spend time with them alone outside the normal environment of sports club/office, etc.
- If you are unhappy with your friends or your home life, be careful not to confuse a relationship with an adult as something other than what it is.
- If you ever feel uncomfortable because of the way an adult has behaved with you, trust your instinct. Don’t see that person again and tell your parent/carer or someone else like a close friend, another family member or social worker.
- If it goes further and becomes sexual abuse, you should do your best to speak to someone to protect other people in the future, as well as yourself – see the advice from Childline here.
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