R U OK? DaySep 14, 2023
Today is R U OK? Day, an important day of the year where we take a moment to ask those around us if they are ok.
The R U OK? organisation recommends following these steps if you notice someone around you seems down or is acting differently:
Ask - if they are ok
Listen - to their response
Encourage action - by speaking to a family member, close friend or a GP
Check in - some time after your initial conversation to see how they are doing
In the context of sexuality and sexual health and wellbeing:
- It is important to recognise that young people in the LGBTQIA+ community have poorer mental health. This 2020 National Survey of LGBTQIA+ people found that over the previous 12 months, more than one-third (36.4%) of participants reported experiencing social exclusion, 32.7% verbal abuse, 22.6% harassment (such as being spat at or offensive gestures), 10.3% sexual assault, and 3.4% physical attack or assault with a weapon due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Parents and teachers, I urge you to check in on the young people around you and ask if they are ok.
- Talk to young people about sexual safety online. The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation has reported a 60% rise in sexual extortion (sextortion) in 2022, and the eSafety Commissioner received almost triple the number of sextortion reports in the first quarter of 2023. Talk to your children about how to navigate social media safely, and how to prevent or report online child sexual abuse. To learn more about this read my previous blog.
If they are 16+ I recommend sharing this resource that I created which is filled with information for young people on how to navigate sex and relationships, body positivity, the dangers of p0rnography, sexual health checks, STIs and so much more.
While we are thinking about people being ok - do you know or teach any Year 6 students? I am thrilled to be joining Cyber Safety Project and Big Sister Experience to arm graduating 2023 primary students, educators and parents with the tools, strategies and resources to thrive in our hyper connected digital world during the transition to secondary school.
It’s important to remember that every day is the day to ask ‘are you ok?’ - but this special day can act as a reminder. Be the askable and tellable parent your child needs you to be.