These Tips & tricks will help you adapt the Flag System to cultural or organisational needs.
This enables you to use the Flag System freely as a professional or organisation within different cultures and sectors, such as care, education, social work and sport.
Basic insights of sexual development
Before you start using the Sensoa Flag System as a professional, some basic insights need to be acquired. As a professional, it is important to have knowledge of the behaviours, feelings and thoughts that occur in the sexual development of children and young people. Each stage of life (from baby to adult) is associated with specific behavioural traits and with sexually suggestive behaviour. After all, sexual development is a lifelong and incremental process. Basic knowledge of this is needed to get started with the Flag System. A good understanding of your target group's sexual development helps to better assess their sexual behaviour (is it okay or does it cross a line) and respond to it appropriately. More information on the sexual development can be found in various languages in the Standards for Sexuality Education.
Adapting the Flag System to your context
The Sensoa Flag System can be used by anyone who wishes to collaborate in the promotion of sexual health and the prevention of sexually transgressive behaviour. Consideration needs to be given to:
- the promotion of sexual health and sexual rights;
the rights of the child and the universal human rights.
The Flag System is a science-based instrument that must be applied in a consistent manner. However, there is flexibility to take into account the organisational and cultural needs of an organisation and permit cultural adaptations. The term 'cultural adaptation' refers to 'the systematic modification of an intervention protocol, considering language, culture and context, in a way that is compatible with the clients' cultural patterns, meaning, and values'.
The purpose of the Tips & tricks guide (PDF) is to help organisations deal with problems and challenges when creating cultural adaptations of the Flag System tailored to their organisation and organisation culture.
The 8 dimensions of cultural adaptations
If you are looking to adapt the Flag System to your organisation's culture, you need to consider all culturally sensitive elements. This may bring a few challenges. The idea is to find a balance between the content of the adaptations, while keeping the core components of the Flag System unchanged.
The Ecological Validity Model describes 8 dimensions that may be culturally sensitive:
The language of the method, but also cultural knowledge and emotions. Language adaptations go beyond mere translation or the availability of the Flag System in a certain language.
The people involved in the use of the Flag System (co-workers, management, parents, caregivers, children, etc.) and the characters that are portrayed in the Flag System.
The symbols, concepts and statements that are used in the Flag System. The colours of the flags can be compared to a traffic light:
- Green: 'this is okay',
- Yellow/orange: 'careful, try to adjust your behaviour',
- Red: 'stop, continuing is dangerous, this is not allowed',
Black: 'you will get a fine if you do not stop at the red light and do not take notice of the clear signal to stop'.
The cultural knowledge about local values, customs and traditions of a certain group (country, community, organisation, etc.) that will use the Flag System.
The concepts or criteria used in the Flag System should be relevant, acceptable, and understandable. Do we understand the same things across different cultures when we talk about mutual consent, voluntary engagement, equality, appropriate to the level of development and functioning, appropriate to the context, and impact?
The aims of the Flag System are:
- to assess sexual behaviour;
- to discuss this behaviour or communicate about it;
to respond to the behaviour in an appropriate way.
The methods or procedures that are defined in the Flag System to achieve the aims. These must remain unchanged and comprise:
- six criteria: mutual consent, voluntary engagement, equality, appropriate to the level of development and functioning, appropriate to the context, and impact;
- four assessment categories: the behaviour is okay, should be altered, is clearly transgressive or seriously transgressive;
- four flags;
the Developmental Chart.
The social, economic, historical, religious, political and juridical reality of a culture or organisation, as well as the needs and experiences of the persons that use the Flag System. Be aware that the values upheld by the Flag System, such as sexual integrity, may be at odds with the current legal and/or religious rules in a country or organisation. Also take into account that becoming accustomed to the Flag System's way of looking at and assessing sexual integrity may require time and training.
The 4 phases to introduce the Flag System
Starting with the Flag System in an organisation or community can be difficult because it deals with a sensitive matter like sexual behaviour. The Flag System is a useful tool, but it needs to become established first. It needs to integrate professionals' habits and goals in order to be effective.
The implementation takes place in four phases:
There is no intention to use the Flag System.
There has already been a first introduction to the Flag System.
Steps are being taken to implement the Flag System.
The Flag System is being used in its entirety.
Phase 1: There is no intention to use the Flag System.
There are no plans to address problematic sexual behaviour. To move from this phase to the next, you can:
- Build trust by creating a secure and encouraging environment where everyone feels at ease.
- Ask people how they see the problem or what their experiences are with objectively assessing sexual behaviour, discussing this behaviour or communicating about it and/or responding to it in an appropriate way.
- Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the Flag System and its implementation in your organisation.
- Help people who are not considering implementing the Flag System in its entirety by carefully planning your implementation strategies. Work with them to design an acceptable plan.
Phase 2: There has already been a first introduction to the Flag System.
Organisations and communities realise they need help to objectively assess problematic sexual behaviour and respond to it in an appropriate manner, but they are not sure yet whether they want to use the Flag System. To help with this, you can apply the six criteria of the Flag System to assess and discuss examples of unclear sexual behaviour.
To assist people, organisations or communities through the full implementation process, you must be able to deal with ambivalence. Ambivalence occurs during a transition process and is normal.
- Reassure the people in your organisation or community that uncertainties and reservations are normal.
Emphasise that you want to help people in the organisation develop their own arguments for using the Flag System.
Most people automatically consider the advantages and disadvantages of a change or the implementation of a method before making a choice. However, you can help an organisation see the advantages of the Flag System, so that the implementation of the method is smoother. A few extra tips:
- Look at where your organisation is on the decision scale (download the full Tips & tricks guide (PDF) for more information).
- Explore the pros and cons of the Flag System.
- Link the values of the Flag System to the goals of the organisation.
- Explore the understanding and expectations of the Flag System.
- Assess and discuss the Knowledge, Attitude and Self-Efficacy concerning sexually transgressive behaviour by filling in the KAS questionnaire.
Enhance commitment to change by taking small steps.
Phase 3: Steps are being taken to implement the Flag System.
In this phase, people are ready to use the Flag System. They do still need to prepare the method and make the necessary cultural adaptations to adapt it to their organisation.
We will go over the 4 steps:
- Step 1: Determine the setting and consult with experts.
- Step 2: Make provisional cultural adaptations to the materials together with the experts.
- Step 3: Make cultural adaptations in an interactive manner with the members of the organisation.
- Step 4: Make final cultural adaptations and start using the Flag System.
Phase 4: The Flag System is being used in its entirety.
The Flag System has now been used in your organisation for at least six months. Keep in mind that not only the Flag System itself, but also cultural sensitivities evolve. They change over time and depend on the context. Remain critical and reflect on the use of the Flag System:
- Assess the Knowledge, Attitude and Self-Efficacy of the people in your organisation by using the KAS questionnaire.
- Review the cultural adaptations you have made.
The Sensoa Flag System can be freely used by anyone who wishes to promote sexual health and prevent sexually transgressive behaviour.
A few important conditions are attached to its use: The Flag System must be used as it was intended; commercial use is not permitted; and essential elements, such as the criteria, may not be adapted.
There are also legal and regulatory aspects involved when using the Sensoa Flag System. Thus, it is best to always take into account laws, applicable professional agreements, protocols and procedures that apply in your context or country.