Be Responsible, Feel Free to Share!
The Parents’ Association “Step by Step” in partnership with the Society “Our Children” of the City of Gospić is carrying out the project Be Responsible, Feel Free to Share! (Budi Odgovoran, Slobodno Sheraj) on the territory of the City of Zagreb and City of Gospić. The project started in March 2020 and will be carried out in continuity for 12 months with the support of the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy. The goal of the project is to encourage responsible sexual behaviour of youths by analysing, using, and sharing information and volunteering, whereby they are also encouraged to actively participate in the community. Through envisaged activities, we strive to inform and educate youths and sensitise the public to the needs and recommendations of youths, aimed at promoting responsible sexual behaviour.
Identifying volunteers and the development of the training – we have included 20 volunteers in the project who have participated in a three-day online training, held on 23rd, 24th and 25th June 2020 via the ZOOM platform. The goal of this training was to empower and educate youths on the particularities and challenges related to responsibly sexual behaviour and on specific activities for the implementation of the survey of the needs and recommendations of youths and the media campaign. During the training, we divided the volunteers into two teams. Team BOSS 1 was responsible for planning and implementing focus groups, the survey of the needs and recommendations, processing the results and deriving conclusions based on information obtained. The objective of team BOSS 2 was the planning and implementation of the media campaign, participating in the creation of video messages, the development and modernisation of social networks and creating messages and posts on websites. Focus groups – a total of 5 focus groups were organised with 21 participants and their purpose was to determine the perspective and the needs of youths with regard to the challenges and the possibilities of improvement related to responsible sexual behaviour of youths. Key questions for which we tried obtaining the answers are: Do youths act responsibly? What kind of messages do youths need? What kind of messages, services and forms of support do youths need? What are the places where such messages can be conveyed to youths? What should be improved? Based on the results of the focus groups, 10 thematic areas that youths highlighted as very important for promoting responsible sexual behaviour were identified – educating the parents on how to talk to children about sex, propagating responsible sexual behaviour through a positive image, advocating birth control, not abstinence, introducing healthcare (sexual) education into schools, the influence of media on the image of sex, knowing the concept of consent, destigmatizing the topic of sex and sexual relations, changing the social awareness with regards to sex and support while growing up (family and expert support).
Survey questionnaire – based on the results obtained by analysing the focus groups, a survey questionnaire was created and conducted on a sample of 200 youths from the entire Republic of Croatia, who differed from one another by their demographic characteristics. It questioned how much the youths were informed regarding a set topic, the knowledge and use of birth control and the influence of society and the media on responsible sexual behaviour. According to the results that were obtained, it was recorded that the knowledge of their own sexuality and responsible sexual behaviour is most frequently available to youths from unreliable and unverified sources such as the internet, television, magazines, peers, or older adolescents, while less frequently, it was available from information obtained through regular education (primary and secondary school), parenting, verified programmes of non-governmental organisations, or professionals. In their answers, the youths said that the prevention in the area of responsible sexual behaviour should be focused on more levels – parenting, education system, developing critical thought and destigmatizing the topic of sexuality in society. It should not be solely oriented towards acquiring the knowledge on preventing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy, but rather, on the change of the approach to youths by promoting awareness, development of communication skills, positive attitudes and convictions, self-respect, and self-efficiency in order to adopt responsible sexual behaviour patterns.
BOSS UP! Meeting – in order to summarise all the results obtained through focus groups and the survey questionnaires, a one-day BOSS UP! meeting of the volunteers was held on 31st October 2020 via the ZOOM platform. All the volunteers of the teams BOSS 1 and BOSS 2 participated. The main goal of this meeting was to present the implemented activities and to create the topics and desired messages on the importance of responsible sexual behaviour of youths that will be included in the creation of 10 educational video messages. We will cover the most important conclusions through video messages with a duration of one to two minutes and present them through our media campaign.
Media campaign – in December 2020, the media campaign will be carried out, through which we will promote created video messages in order to improve the awareness of the needs of youths and sensitise the general and professional public. We have created an official Instagram profile named boss_odgovorno_sheraj and internet tag “hashtag” #BOSStamoodgovornost that will symbolize activities and messages created over the course of the project.