Why Language Matters: Professionals Supporting Young People

In their own words... why language matters

Understanding why language matters is a really important part of supporting Young People who have experienced CEA. As part for our #CSEAwareness Campaign we’re sharing some examples of poor language and explain the negative impact this can have, we then look at some good language and phrases Young People have heard and why these have had a positive impact. 

Language to Avoid

Sadly, all too often the young people  we support have come across problematic, victim-blaming or unprofessional language which can have a huge negative impact on the young person. Below are some statements that Young People supported by Basis Young People have come across during their interactions with professionals, we explain what’s wrong about them and why they should be challenged.

“They are a difficult child and are attention seeking”

It is important to recognise that the young person is facing extremely challenging situations and their behaviours are a way in which they can communicate what they are going through.

“She wears too much makeup for her age and wears promiscuous clothing”

This is victim blaming language suggesting that the way she presented herself is the reason for the abuse, rather than the fault perpetrator. It is never the victims fault.

“You shouldn’t be talking to these people that much”

This is places the blame on the young person rather than the abuser. It is never the victims fault. Instead try and understand what the needs of the young person.

“time waster”
“waste of resources”

Understand that the young person is going through a lot, and can be understandably confused about who is trust worthy and who is not- it is not their job to be consistent and persistent that’s the role of the professionals.

Positive Language

Whilst we must challenge poor and problematic language, it’s just as important to highlight the great support that Young People have received from professionals. Below are some examples of thing professionals have said to Young People that have had a real, positive impact.

“I’m here if you want to talk, if there’s anything”

It can be hard for anyone to open up to a new person, especially with difficult things. Don’t push people to say things that they aren’t ready for, be gentle and understand that it will take time for someone to open up.

“We’re not going to give up on you”

Offering consistent and persistent support is key to help young people understand that you won’t abandon them


Being conscious and careful of the language you use, and making sure you challenge others when you hear problematic language is incredibly important. It helps create a culture in which young people feel safer and more supported to disclose abuse or exploitation, and protects them when they do so. 

#CSEDay2022 #CEAHasntGoneAway #CSEAwarenessDay 

Want some more information?

 If you want more information on Basis Young People as a professional, please visit our webpage: https://basisyorkshire.org.uk/youngpeople/professionals/ 

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any worries about a Young Person you are supporting!

If you are a Young Person, and you have been affected by something you’ve read in this blog, visit our ‘Do You Feel Safe?’ webpage: https://basisyorkshire.org.uk/youngpeople/do-you-feel-safe/ 

For more information on CSE Awareness Day, check out the Stop CE webpage: https://stop-cse.org/national-awareness-day/ 

CEA Day 2022

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