In their own words: what makes youth in care vulnerable?

Young people recognize their life experience makes them vulnerable for these reasons:[These points were identified by the youth advisors working on the toolkit project.]

  • We are looking for a connection to anyone who offers it, that makes us vulnerable to adults who prey on us
  • It’s hard to say ‘no’ to an adult you feel loyal to because they give you a home or buy you things you need or want
  • Fear of more loss – of the relationship, even an abusive one is better than nothing
  • Fear of trading bad for worse – what if they take me to a worse foster home? What if I end up without a home?
  • Questioning my sexual identity and orientation, especially around adults or other kids who think there is a ‘normal’ way to be a boy or girl
  • Aging out of care – being alone in the world and not feeling prepared to deal with it
  • Shame, blame and guilt about ourselves
  • Not having an education about healthy sex – “I never had the sex talk”
  • Wanting to be loved

Being involved with child protection makes us more vulnerable because our lives have included trauma in the form of instability and disruption to family relationships and the loss of a safe and supportive family home. One caring supportive adult can make a huge difference. Everyone needs someone who loves them no matter what.

A word about resilience

The same life experience that makes young people vulnerable has also pushed them in developing strength of character, skills, resourcefulness and resilience. Leap21 youth advisors were clear that resilience needs support to grow. Being resilient doesn’t mean “I don’t need support”. 

Further Reading & Resources