A staggering 70 per cent of children aged 7–18 years old have accidentally encountered pornographic material online, often through a web search while doing their homework. Pre-COVID-19, studies showed that one in four young people had seen porn by the age of 12, and more than half by the age of 14.
Since the proliferation of smart devices, it has become more and more challenging for both educators and parents to keep children from accessing online pornography.
So, unfortunately, large numbers of children and teenagers are being exposed to images and ideas about relationships and sex that are not only misleading, but also potentially damaging. Without context and guidance, young people are receiving skewed messages in pornography about consent, intimacy relationships and women.
Pre-COVID-19, studies showed that one in four young people had seen porn by the age of 12, and more than half by the age of 14. That is a large number of children being exposed to misleading content that often by-passes any home-truths about relationships and sex.
What role do educators play?
Educators play a vital role in helping young people to explore and understand issues to do with relationships and pornography. And in order to communicate the right messages on these topics, teachers need to feel both confident and comfortable. They need to inspect their own attitudes and biases and to think about where and how they'll deliver the lessons.
According to Catherine Manning, CEO and program director of SEED Workshops: “Whether you enjoy pornography or not, a sex-positive attitude is necessary in order to create a safe space for students and foster healthy attitudes towards sex.”
ClickView's Respectful Intimate Relationships – resources available here – series provides teachers will all the resources they need to deliver, plan and prepare to deliver a series of lessons to senior students about misogyny and pornography, sharing imitate images, pornography addiction and pornography versus reality.
The Respectful Intimate Relationships series uses a number of tools and techniques to get conversations about challenging topics flowing smoothly and respectfully in the classroom.
Distancing is a psychological term used to help people work through their issues by taking a step back and reflecting on things at a distance. Watching a video on the topic, for example, is a simple form of distancing. In this series we use a further distancing technique by presenting the content in several layers: a pirate film, a film set shooting the pirate film, and expert commentators, discussing all of the above.
Students and teachers don’t need to talk about their own experiences, or even the experiences of the ‘film crew’, but can step back one further and talk about the metaphorical situations the pirates find themselves in.
Pop culture references
Pop culture references always help to engage students, who might not expect to hear them in the classroom context. Students spend so much time immersed in pop culture outside of the classroom, that it helps provide a common language and breaks down initial learning barriers.
In the context of a piece of video content, if students recognise the scene they’re watching, it can make the content feel more accessible to them. In our series, we imitated Pirates of the Caribbean and reproduced its great production quality, larger than life characters and energetic action scenes that keep the plot moving along nicely.
Humour is an important piece of the puzzle to ensure that this kind of content is presented well. When Grubby Gutstink Gertrude asks: “Am I dead. How did it happen?” in Pornography v. Reality, it’s the ridiculous nature of the line, rather than the laugh value, that gets the students thinking about what it could mean.
Lastly, but most importantly, how do you get students talking about a topic that you, as a teacher, could be very uncomfortable with? The answer is: don’t be afraid to rely on resources, including pre-teaching support and interactive questions to use while watching content. No one’s denying that sex education is a challenge for any educator, so why not take all the help you can get?
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