Professional competencies for sexuality and relationships education in child and youth social care: A scoping review

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Sexuality and relationships education (SRE) often do not accommodate the needs of vulnerable young people in child and youth social care, (school) social work, and residential or foster care, leaving professionals in these fields a vital role in delivering SRE to these young people. This scoping review examines what competencies professionals need to facilitate adequate guidance and education about sexuality and relationships in their work with vulnerable children and young people.

We conducted a systematic literature search in five databases – PsychINFO, Eric, Medline, CINAHL and Social Services Abstracts – for articles published between 1991 and 2021 on March 6, 2021, using a set of predefined search strings. Articles on sexuality and relationship education (SRE) or sexual health, related to competencies of (future) professionals and published in English were included.

Our review revealed a range of competencies that professionals may need, such as providing basic prevention, dealing with children struggling with their sexual orientation, handling disclosure of sexual abuse or dealing with problematic sexualized behavior (often combinations of the above), but also supporting young people in exploring positive aspects of relationships and sexuality.

SRE is an integral part of the work of professionals in child and youth social care. Wider organizational and educational commitment is needed for implementation of SRE to facilitate a safe environment for diverse young people.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107258
Pages (from-to)1-29
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


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