Ethical conduct in youth work

I’ve just been reading the NYA document, Ethical Conduct in Youth Work. It’s been around since 2004 but I’ve only just picked it up.
(ht to Roy for reminding me where I came across this document, and therefore to Paul who wrote about this first, and more fully)
The Principles are thus:
Ethical principles
Youth workers have a commitment to:
1. Treat young people with respect, valuing each individual and avoiding
negative discrimination.
2. Respect and promote young people’s rights to make their own
decisions and choices, unless the welfare or legitimate interests of themselves
or others are seriously threatened.
3. Promote and ensure the welfare and safety of young people, while
permitting them to learn through undertaking challenging educational activities.
4. Contribute towards the promotion of social justice for young people and
in society generally, through encouraging respect for difference and diversity and
challenging discrimination.

Professional principles
Youth workers have a commitment to:
5. Recognise the boundaries between personal and professional life and
be aware of the need to balance a caring and supportive relationship with young
people with appropriate professional distance.
6. Recognise the need to be accountable to young people, their parents or
guardians, colleagues, funders, wider society and others with a relevant interest in
the work, and that these accountabilities may be in conflict.
7. Develop and maintain the required skills and competence to do the
8. Work for conditions in employing agencies where these principles are discussed, evaluated and upheld.

I’m noting them here to bring up in discussion next time I’m meeting with a herd* of youth ministers. I think the arenas highlighted in #5 and #6 would be a good debate, what EXACTLY do boundaries and accoutability look like in Youth Ministry?
*We have not yet pinned down the perfect collective noun for Youth Ministers despite attempts

10 Replies to “Ethical conduct in youth work”

  1. Roy,
    Thanks for this,, I knew I’d come across this document from someones blog when I was following themes around t’internet a while back. I will add the link.

  2. Paul articulates my own concerns with this area….The issue of autonomy for young people being ‘evangelised’.How much are young people being truly empowered to make informed choices? How much are they given the hard sell?Where do we cross the line into manipulation? I was confronted with the hard sell myself this week and when scripture is being bombarded at you to support a version of Christianity, it is very difficult to express a different view even for a Christian like myself.I am not sure about this way.

  3. It was only 2 hours ahead of its time. I knew I wouldn’t have time to blog on Monday so did mess (ever so slightly) with the space-time continuum.

  4. accountability to parents, is always a good topic, as much is made of the accountability of the youth owrker to the church, or organsation, and even to the young people, but not much is made of accountability to the parents.

  5. I think Paul and you raise some interesting issues. I’ve already said, sometime back, that IMHO part of our problem is that the Christian training organisations have bought uncritically into the JNC as the defining measure of good practise “… and some things that should not have been forgotten were lost”.
    In particular, I think that the the boundary issues for a youth worker, working for a community organisation (e.g. a church) and living within the community, are different to those for a youth worker who commutes in to a youth centre.
    I’m less concerned about the evangelism issue, for two reasons:
    1. A key principle of Christian belief is that Faith has to be a freely made decision. That doesn’t nullify manipulation, but it does mean that manipulation is not the inevitable (or most effective) means of evangelism.
    2. State sector youth workers are not immune from manipulation. I have witnessed state sector colleagues manipulating conversations, so that they can give the party line on some issue on a government tick list (condom availability, drug use, etc).

  6. Roy I agree with your points especially about state sector colleagues manipulating conversations. I have experienced this myself in the state sector and I dislike it as much as I dislike Youth Ministers manipulating young impressionable minds. I totally agree about..’freely’…

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