How "What's The Debate?" Was Created...

Did you know "What's The Debate?" was created in my mind after a mixed group work session with some 18 years olds that was based on the topic of porn!


The session had been part of a 6 week-course I was facilitating for the young people and during the previous week, they had chosen the topic to be on Online Safety and Social Media. At the start of the session, after reminding of ground rules and confidentially, I started to read out some statements to introduce the session and I come to a statement about porn. Now normally the reaction to this statement is either complete silence and sheepish looks down to the floor or fits of giggles, well not this time.


The reaction to this one statement led me to "throwing" out the rest of the session plan and have some of the best discussions and open debates I have ever had with young people. The ladies in the room spoke about how they felt it was unfair that their race was hardly represented in porn and how it affects their body image;



"Why is it always white girls with blonde hair and big boobs, Beckie? Why can't they show someone like us and in a respectful way?"


The ladies also spoke about how their sexuality was questioned if they ever mentioned that they had watched porn. "If guys can watch it, then why can't we?" and they were right, they were all 18 years old and legally they are allowed to watch it. Just as we were going to discuss this further the lads in the room responded with how they get called "perverts" for watching porn and how one of them felt that they "had" to watch porn as that is what is expected of men. The ladies were shocked by this and the discussions continued, the lads continued with how their body image and self-esteem is impacted as well, one stated how he hates porn because he is lucky if he lasts more than 5 minutes and one of the ladies responded with porn being so unrealistic as it always shows the women climaxing. There was even a reference made to Friends (which I was very impressed about) when Chandler and Joey receive free porn on their satellite TV and how this changes their views on women, sex and consent.


In that short hour, we had tackled self-esteem, body image, gender stereotypes, myths, mental health, safe sex, consent and respectful relationships and best of all this was all led by the young people. I spent most the time ensuring that the discussions were respectful, that the statements were challenged and not the person, providing some leading questions to continue the discussions and using my laptop to obtain some facts in relation to the questions the young people in the room were raising. One of this being that children as young as 8 have been accessing porn, some where shocked about this but some, mainly, the lads weren't.


"That's because it's everywhere, even when I am playing games online, adverts for porn come up. Its like they are forcing us to watch it!"



This session is always going to stay with me, it honestly was one of the most interesting and thought provoking sessions I have ever facilitated and most importantly the young people learnt from each other and really enjoyed the session, to the extent that they requested further sessions at the end of the 6 weeks and 3 of the group members went on to train as Peer Mentors with me.


So that is how "What's The Debate?" was created and that is why I am really pleased to now have a "Porn" Resource pack added to our Sex Topics, an issue that people have a lot to say about but so do young people and an issue that we should be talking about to our young people. Like with all our other resource packs, this pack includes 25 Statement Cards and 4 Lesson Plans and don't worry you won't have to quickly type to find supporting evidence or arguments for the statements all of that is included in the Facilitators Notes within the Lesson Plans.


The reason why I chose Statement Cards as the main resource?... Well the above shows that even just one statement can tackle so many different issues and subjects in an open and honest way!


For further research about Porn and Young People you can go to;


https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-porn/


https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/2016/i-wasn-t-sure-it-was-normal-to-watch-it/


https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/an-examination-of-the-impact-of-online-pornography-on-children-and-young-people/



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