Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Esteem Resource Network update event materials

This is just a quick update to share my powerpoint from the Esteem Resource Network
update event and link to a few resources I looked at during my research. 

PowerPoint Presentation 


WHO definition of sexual health


Fpa Sexual Wellbeing and Pleasure document



Youtube videos 


50 Shades of Grey Trailer


Home office rape prevention advert 


Sex+ Consent video



Background reading

Fetish Sex: A Complete Guide to Sexual Fetishes

50 Shades of Grey reading by a Sex and Relationship Educator

and if you are super keen 
Fifty Shades of Grey

This is a very expensive but very useful collection of articles  The Politics of Pleasure in Sexuality Education: Pleasure Bound (Routledge Research in Education)

Monday, 5 May 2014

Plan for the adopted, abused, HIV+ and pregnant

When I write a new lesson plan or activity  I always ask myself "how would my lesson impact someone if they had...

- experienced sexual abuse
- been pregnant
- a member of their family or themselves  infected with HIV
- been questioning their sexuality
- never seriously considered sex before
(and I've just added)
- been through the fostering/adoption system "

When a write new material I am usually  writing something that I hope I could use multiple times with multiple groups and possibly over multiple years. So whilst statistically it is unlikely that every class will have people for all the above questions. It is an almost 100% certainty that most of the materials I write will at some point be delivered to all of the above. 

I believe we have to plan for the 20%, 1%, the 0.1% and the 0.01%. I may never happen but if it did I want to ensure all my materials have a positive impact for everyone regardless of what others pressures that may have on their life. 

I know I sometimes get this wrong, the language I use and even the style of activities and presentation may sometimes miss the mark. But it's worth the effort. Taking the time to always recognise and validate everyone's experience regardless of how common or rare it is. 

Asking myself those questions is a method to check that my own personal experiences are not damaging my work. Am I always taking the time to help all students especially those who may face difficult and complex situations.

I sometimes add more questions
"how would my lesson impact someone who had...

- an addiction to pornography or erotica
- been caught sending naked pictures of themselves to other students
- been dumped just before the lesson
- a very positive enjoyable sexual experience yesterday
- long term body image worries
- Inherited genital herpes from their mum
- Just had a contraceptive implant fitted "

Those are all good questions too but the top 6 are my must important. They are a method to help me critique my own work. These young people deserve for my lessons to help them not add extra pressure, what ever they have or are currently facing.

Would you add any questions to my list?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Update on Chester SRE work in 2013-14

Below is the Prezi I am using to give an update on my SRE work in chester this year. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Sexting Education Resource

Today I am sharing a free resource I have made to help teenagers think about the type of images they are sharing online and by direct messages. I class this resource as in BETA, it is just my first attempt at making these images and I want to reshoot the photos. Get rid of the cluttered backgrounds and I need to find a male mannequin to use as well. You can find all the images I use at Sexting Images Resources

I have tested these images in a number of lessons for 14-15 year olds. The way I use them is getting the young people into small groups and asking them to put them in order from most risky images to share to least risky. They create a continuum of risk. Then we talk through a number of follow up questions. 
  • Which images would it be ok to share on social network?
  • Which images might be ok to share by direct message, such as snapchat or MMS?
  • Which images should we never share?
  • Which images do you think could get people into trouble with the police?
  • Which images would be embarrassing if they got passed around school?
  • Which images would you worry about a stranger online getting hold of?
  • Which images would you worry about you parents/carers seeing?
Then a key part of the activity is asking the class to think about what is the motivation of taking or sharing an image. From my experience and from what other educators have told me, motivation is key. Young people can make more balanced (and hopefully safe) choices when they have thought about the underlying motivations. Especially the motivations of why people ask for these photos? what do they want them for? Are they likely to share it?

Already I have found some problems with the photos. Firstly they are all female and I need to sort out some male photos. Second I need to improve the quality of the photos. Thirdly I need to add more photos, such as photos smoking/drinking/drugs or doing crazy stunts or breaking a law. These photos will help to widen the activity beyond the focus on sexting to include other online pitfalls. 

If you are a schools worker, youth worker or teacher and you would like to use the images, please feel free to download them and use them. The only request I have is to give me feedback. If you create any additional images I would love to see them. Like all my work on this site I have released it under a creative commons license. 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.




Thursday, 6 February 2014

The impact of a 15 year old girl being made to watch pornogrpahy - Grace's story,

Today on BBC Three Counties Radio I heard an interview with 20 year old Grace talking about her experience of being pressured into watching pornography by her then boyfriend when she was 15 years old. She was incredibly honest and open about how she felt it had negatively impacted her. If you would like to listen to the interview it will be available for a week at the BBC, skip to 1 Hour 7mins into the programme or you can read my typed up complete transcript of the interview. In this blog I want to pick out a few of things that Grace said. 

One of the first things Grace says is 
So the boy I was currently dating at the time, was obviously at that age where he had been watching it since about the age of 12 and he had heard from some of his friends that they watch it with their girlfriends. So he came up with a suggestion to me and I said no and I kept saying no and then he just kept on pushing, so I then said “well ok lets check this out, I’ve never looked at it before but lets have a look at it.
The first thing that leaps out to me in this is that he nagged her into watching it, persistent pressure made her go against what she originally clearly said she wanted. To me coercion of any kind is never acceptable. It highlights how good quality Sex and Relationship Education must have a firm foundation of exploring what makes a healthy relationship. Beyond just encouraging the positives I feel the messages needs to be made explicit. It is never ok to force and pressure your partner to do something they do not want to do. At any age and on topic.  The more 11-13 who hear, accept and put this into practice this the less problems we would have with 13+. 

The interview continues. and she says it was the first time she had ever seen any pornography and her first impression was that
It seemed quite forced, that the women, it was kind of like [She was] just there to be used for it. No expression of love between them. And I think that was what was most shocking really.  
Now obviously one person's experience can not be used to say everyone who watches porn will have the same reaction. However I do think it is a useful window into how some young people are encountering porn. A strong gender bias is evident in lots of mainstream pornography. Female objectification and degradation is a common observation. An adult might see this and feel outraged or appalled at the sexism. But i believe we should not assume the reactions from young people, without the framework of adult thinking, will be the same. Would a teenage male notice the sexism? Clearly this interview shows the 15 year old Grace noticed it wasn't what she liked and she can now reflect on why. i personally wonder if she had the same awareness as a teenager or just the emotional reaction.    

i don't think this is something we can ethically investigate in a formal study. Showing various types of porn to under 18 and trying to measure their emotional and cognitive reactions sounds very dodgy. So the question may remain unclear of what is the impact of porn on a brain that is still forming compared to the impact on an adult brain. My personal fear is that many of the sexual inequalities and violence common in much of the porn industry could be internalised and accepted by male and female young people exposed to it. Long term implications of this could be horrific. 

Later in the interview the radio presenter asks
So when you watched this pornography how did your boyfriend respond to it.

Grace replies
Well obviously he wanted to try everything he had seen on it. and it just really freaked me out, it almost felt like he was a different person after watching it with him. It was almost like “am i not good enough in this relationship for you?"
I think this may be a common reaction and the boys desire to try out what he had just watched is something I have heard boys expressing in schools lessons. Lots of variations of "I just wanted to try it after it looked so good" or "I think porn helps me find new things to do to my girlfriend". Monkey see Monkey do? Yet without a deep understanding of the biology of porn sex many young people end up confused, in pain or injured. High quality SRE can help especially when we peel back how fake porn is and show how much preparation, stretching, warm up, lube etc is needed to film the scenes they do.

Grace is also explaining how it immediatly put pressure on the relationship. Her view has be altered and damaged by the experience and particullary she is concerned about what the porn says about her boyfriends opinion of her is. 

One question and answer did surprise me a little. 
JVSDid you talk to any of your friends at the time, any of your girl friends, to talk it through with them? 
Grace Not at the time no but having spoken to them after a couple of years they were going through exactly the same thing as me. And even in some cases it was actually the girls that wanted to watch it and the boys were like “this is a bit weird why do you want to watch this with me, this is my personal kind of thing”. So it just affected all of us really in different ways.
I wish the interviewer had followed up this question asking why Grace thought the girls wanted to watch porn with their boyfriends. Was it because they were enjoying the porn? If so why was their experience of porn so different from Grace's. Was it because they just wanted to be involved with what their boyfriends enjoyed sexually? Was it curiosity? Was it trying to shame the boys into stop watching it? kind of like an ultimatum of "if you're too ashamed to watch it with me, should you really be watching it at all?" I just don't know but Grace did say that some of the boys at least find porn to be a very personal and private thing. Would an equivalent be a partner asking their girlfriend to read out loud passages from 50 Shades of Grey or some of the explicit One Direction fanfiction. Is privacy during teenage sexual development just a natural normal aspect of discovery and exploration. I'm certain many adults would be worried about their partner knowing every sexual thought that pops into their head. 

Near the end of the interview Grace explains what impact she think the experience had on her. 
You kind of put yourself in the frame of mind that all boys want to do the same and it is definitely not the case. It is the case in some instances but you just get in this frame of mind that boys just want one thing and its so not true. But because I’ve seen that and I’ve heard of other things you kind of protect yourself a little bit and you don’t give yourself over as much.
Negative sexual experiences in someones teenage years are known to have long lasting impacts. I think it is impossible to protect young people from all negative experiences. Partly because what is negative for one person might be a positive for another. But I hope we can help give young people more tools to identify earlier warning signs and equip them to avoid some pitfalls. Overall I think a healthy level of resilience is needed amongst young people. It is misguided of adults to assume that what shocks us the most is what will damage young people the most. We have to listen to young people constantly to ensure the provision we offer help young people with their biggest issues not our biggest freak outs. 

The interview ends and they move into discussion with Jason Royce from the Romance Academy. They discuss a lot of aspects of the issue and its well worth a listen (I didn't have the energy to transcript the whole thing). Jason does a great job of exploring the issue and offering so positive steps. 

I was very impressed with the BBC for doing this interview as it is such a sensitive and volatile topic. Grace's story shows how clearly we need to keep pushing for better Relationship and Sex Education in schools, youth clubs and at home. Many teenagers get caught up in situations they don't feel comfortable with and with people who don't take one "No" as an answer and think pestering coercion is acceptable. I think this emotional abuse needs to be a focus of SRE if we truly want to help people. Pornography doesn't look like it will be going any where soon and young people will continue to access it. So we must help give them the skills to navigate and avoid the unhealthy pressures it can create. 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Progress in updating government are guidance

This week we got news that finally Michael Give has consented to provide some government guidance on SRE issues like consent, sexting, porn and partner violence.

Michael is doing some thing very right consulting three key groups of the pshe association, Brook and the sec education forum. All three have a great appreciation of the key issues and I'm sure they will produce good recommendations. This guidance will be a great help to school.

But Gove is still saying that the 2000 guidance will remain and this new guidance will be more of a suggestion. With Gove's consistent claim we should leave it to the  teachers to decide what they will teach. Putting aside the inconsistencies in provision for UK young people. This seems to be the opposite method Gove has been following for the rest of the curriculum. He has looked to standardise what all young people learn of academic subjects in an attempt to raise standards. A nobel cause, yet SRE does not appear to enjoy the same attention/approach as maths and English.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/better-sex-education/10575080/Porn-sexting-and-violence-against-women-schools-to-be-given-new-guidance-for-21st-century-sex-education.html

Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year for Blogging

New Year for Blogging 

2013 was a bad year for my blogs, I barely posted. Not sure why. Maybe I was too distracted and busy but also I think I fell in to the trap of thinking every blog post needed to be a long post after lots of reading/research. Like this post in my SRE blog about 50 Shade of Grey in Aug 2012 or this one from my random blog about Cambodian Rice Paddy Fish Keeping in Feb 2012. Both posts took over a week to write with all the reading I did for them. Both posts are some of the most popular post I have written. So Last year I got into a bit of a rut with always wanting to write long posts after lots of research. I started 3 or 4 different long posts that I never posted in the end.

So in 2014 I am aiming to post every week even if it is a short post, like this one. 

Enjoy this 

Hey There Chlamydia - Parody video