Challenges in boundaries

There can be a lack of clarity around boundaries

The process of negotiating personal and professional boundaries is challenging, and even more so for young people who may not have experienced situations in which to practise skills or to define and develop their professional conduct especially when working with their peers, many of whom may be friends.1-4

Both personal and professional boundary issues may arise in relationships between trainer peers, project coordinators and the target group.3

Project coordinators themselves are likely to be older than the target group or the trained peers.  Determining appropriate interaction and roles can present challenges including issues such as socialising, the way in which support is provided and dealing with sexual attraction and friendship issues.3

Personal issues including those related to mental health, self harm, substance use or sexuality may also surface in the course of implementing peer-based approaches either within the target group or amongst trained peers implying that clear referral and debriefing pathways must be available.1-4


  1. Milburn, K 1995, A critical review of peer education with young people with special reference to sexual health. Health Education Research, 10: 407-20.
  2. Shiner, M 1999, Defining Peer Education. Journal of Adolescence, 22: 555-566.
  3. Turner, G 1999, ‘Peer support and young people’s health’, Journal of Adolescence, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 567-72.
  4. Walker, S & Avis, M 1999, Common reasons why peer education fails. Journal of Adolescence. 22(4): 573-577.