September 25, 2022

Cayman Islands Teen Panel embraces debate on healthy relationships

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Seven girls and a boy took part in this year’s Teen Panel debate on healthy relationships, Wednesday, 10 May 2017.

The initiative, a regular fixture on the annual Child Month calendar, was organised by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Local high schools were each asked to put forward a panelist to take part in the forum which was filmed at the Government Administration Building.

In the run up to the panel, participants were given pre-prepared questions. They encouraged to do research and talk to their peers so that they could take an active part in the debate.

Ranging in age from 14 to 18 years old, panellists split into two groups and the discussions were moderated by Cayman’s 2017/2019 CARICOM Youth Ambassadors, Camille Angel and Andrel Harris.

Each group answered six questions a piece including what elements make up a healthy relationship, what advice they would give a friend in an unhealthy relationship and what they thought the age of consent should be locally and why.

Layman E. Scott student Cassidy Connor, 16, said she was honoured to have been selected to represent Cayman Brac youth.

“It was a great opportunity of us all to express our opinions and talk deeply about healthy relationships.
Everyone involved really listened to what was being said and you could tell they had prepared well. We all got a chance to have our say. I found it very educational,” she added.

Prompted by their research, panellists even questioned the anomaly of why the age of consent is 14 for boys and 16 years old for girls.

Talking about the importance of Teen Panel, its co-ordinator Kai Matthews-Mowatt said, “During some lively exchanges, our panellists got to air their views in a mature manner without the worry of appearing self-conscious due to peer pressure by classmates and friends.”

“Teen Panels are also an excellent way for us at DCFS to learn what teenagers are thinking on specific subjects. These insights keep us in touch with how teens think on such matters and can often inform policies designed to target this cohort.”

The forum’s in-studio audience of around 20 people included school staff members, parents and members of DCFS’s social work team.

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