Professor Cross presented some interesting perspectives from her work with children and adolescents, in particular around help-seeking behaviours in instances of bullying.
Two glaring issues are apparent.
First of all, the rate at which kids seek help.
In one study* by Cross, less than 15 per cent of boys who said they were dealing with an issue sought help from an adult, whilst less than half girls dealing with an issue chose to seek help.
But perhaps even more of an issue is the rate at which kids stated asking an adult for help didn’t actually improve the situation.
To address this, Professor Cross suggested we adopt the LATE model when talking to kids seeking help, and I feel it could act as a helpful guide for teachers, parents and youth workers alike.
In short it stands for:
L: LISTEN Actively listen, and ensure that we adults do not engage in behaviours that imply we don’t have time to fully listen to the child’s concern.
A: ACKNOWLEDGE Regardless of whether we believe it should be a cause of concern for the child, we need to acknowledge that it is. Even throw-away lines like, “Oh don’t worry about it” can imply to kids we’re not taking them seriously.
T: TALK ABOUT OPTIONS This is most powerful when the child comes up with the options. We can facilitate a conversation that explores the pros and cons of each option, but as with most things, when the individual comes up with a solution, they are more likely to put that into action.
E: END WITH ENCOURAGEMENT Encouraging the child to put into action what has been discussed and setting a time for a follow up chat is essential. Also acknowledging again that, whilst it doesn’t guarantee success, they did the right thing by seeking help.
I think the LATE model offers any adult – a parent or other family member, teacher, coach – a simple way to better engage with youngsters when they seek our help.
Furthermore, it’s a pretty good model to use when anyone – young or old, family member or work colleague – needs our assistance, as it has many synergies with coaching conversations, in which the aim is to empower the coachee, rather than tell them what to do.
*Cross, D., Shaw, T., Hearn, L., Epstein, M., Monks, H., Lester, L., & Thomas, L. (2009). Australian covert bullying prevalence study.