In a detached youth work setting I mentioned in an earlier post that there are no rules on the street, you are meeting the young people on their ground. However, all of us deserve respect and this setting is no different and you will want to discuss this with the young people.
When you are out on the street you will need to be realistic and understand the group you are reaching out to. Are they aggressive? Drug users?
The groups you meet will probably want to challenge you as ‘authority’ and whilst it might be tempting to challenge and get agreements from them it would be better to build on your relationship first. Whilst recognising that some situations do need challenging… it is a tightrope to walk!
Don’t avoid conflict though. It is a part of all our lives and you can teach young people how to deal with conflict in a positive way. As a youth worker you need to be able to feel your way in any situation and be aware of conflict and that it might be growing. If tension is growing you need to assess the risk and decide whether to stay and work through the mounting tension or leave. You do not want to handle aggression.
Learning to deal with conflict together will help you build upon your relationship with the young people. It is important to stress that you need to remain safe. Leaving the scene to return another day is all part of the learning experience for the young people.