Myth vs Reality - New toolkit from Childnet

Childnet launches new resources to support young people as only 15% of 11-14s say they know where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships.

Children’s charity Childnet launch new resources to address online pornography, healthy relationships and body image online.

Brand new resources have been launched by children’s charity Childnet, as part of its work in the UK Safer Internet Centre. The ‘Myth vs Reality’ toolkit covers the issues of pornography, healthy relationships and body image and is designed to be used with young people aged 11-14.

Whilst 80% of 11-14s surveyed by Childnet said it was important or extremely important for young people to discuss the issues related to online pornography, only 15% said they knew where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships. After taking part in the activities, 77% of those surveyed felt they knew where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships.

Following on from the huge success of the ‘Crossing the Line’ toolkit launched in 2016, which covered the issues of sexting, peer pressure, cyberbullying and self-esteem, this new toolkit includes a range of videos, quick activities and adaptable lesson plans based on the real experiences of young people.

The toolkit was created following focus groups conducted in five schools across the UK, where young people expressed the need for education about the portrayal of gender, bodies and relationships online with a particular need for education about the reality of online pornography.

One boy aged between 11 -13 in a focus group stated that: “the less educated people are about sex and relationships the more they are going to try and look for it.”

With Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) becoming statutory in all schools from September 2020, these resources provide schools with much needed practical, thoughtful and helpful resources to support them in teaching RSE. It also comes as the UK prepares to be the first country in the world to implement an age-verification system for online pornography.

The toolkit has been tested in seven schools across the UK where both teachers and pupils tried out the resources and provided feedback about the impact it had had in their school.

Research was conducted with young people aged 11-14 before they completed the toolkit, providing over 600 responses:

  • 80% said it was important or extremely important for young people to discuss the issues related to online pornography, but only 15% said they knew where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships
  • Only 23 % said that they could recognise the difference between what is considered the ‘ideal’ body image online and the reality of a realistic and healthy body
  • Only 23% said that they knew what makes a healthy relationship online
  • After taking part in the activities in the toolkit, young people aged 11-14 reported on the impact that it had, with over 450 responses. Schools saw an increase in confidence and knowledge of the issues in the toolkit:

  • 90% said they now felt confident in supporting themselves and others with the issues related to online pornography
  • 77% said they know where to go to find reliable information about sex and relationships
  • 69% said the lessons made them feel more confident in supporting my friends online when it came to issues around body image
  • 59% felt confident in supporting themselves and others with unhealthy relationships online
  • Will Gardner OBE, CEO of Childnet and Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said:
    “The issues that affect young people online are changing and are complex. It is vital that all young people are given the opportunity to discuss the pressures they face online, and develop the skills to spot and understand the gap between perception and reality.

    We have created this toolkit to support and empower educators in exploring these challenging and often interrelating topics with confidence, and to allow them to help their pupils develop the strategies they need to navigate the online world. It’s clear from those schools who have taken part that these resources are much needed and can have a real impact on the lives of young people.”

    One secondary school teacher from Gravesend said:
    “The pupils loved the lessons and one year 9 class asked me when the next lesson was. When I said it was a one-off they said 'we need more lessons like this'. (…) Thank you so much for asking us to be part of the trial - I also learnt a lot."

    A year 9 pupil commenting on the healthy relationships activities said that: "This lesson helps people who are silently struggling. I learnt about how communication, respect, trust and boundaries are key."

    Another young person said, “I learnt what [pornography is] about and where I could go if I needed to talk about it or needed help and that you don't need to look a certain way for other people."

    For more information on how the toolkit can be used in education settings read this piece on ‘How teachers can use the ‘Myth vs Reality’ toolkit’

    Written by Childnet International on May 02, 2019 12:25

    ChildLine campaign launches to help build children’s resilience to porn

    Shocking figures show one in ten 12-13 year olds are worried they are addicted to porn

    The NSPCC’s ChildLine service has launched a campaign to raise awareness and provide advice to young people about the harmful implications of an over exposure to porn. The move follows the discovery that nearly one in ten 12-13 year olds are worried they are addicted to porn.

    A poll of nearly 700 12-13 year-olds in the UK also reveals that that one in five of those surveyed said they’d seen pornographic images that had shocked or upset them and 12 per cent admitted to making or having been part of a sexually explicit video.

    The figures form part of a UK-wide survey of 2,000 children and young people aged 11-17 which was conducted by One Poll in February 2015.

    The ChildLine FAPZ campaign (the Fight Against Porn Zombies) will use a series of animations looking at the implications of over exposure to porn on both boys and girls. The animations then link to a range of information and advice, to help young people understand the implications associated with replicating pornographic content in real life situations and to protect them from putting themselves in potentially risky situations. The campaign is designed for young people, by young people, who have been at the heart of the creative development throughout.

    Peter Liver, Director of ChildLine said: “Children of all ages today have easy access to a wide range of pornography and if we as a society shy away from talking about this issue, then we are failing the thousands of young people it is affecting.

    “We know from the young people who contact ChildLine, that viewing porn is a part of every-day life, and our poll shows that one in five 12-13 year-olds think that watching porn is normal behaviour. However, even more worryingly, they also tell ChildLine that watching porn is making them feel depressed, giving them body image issues, making them feel pressured to engage in sexual acts they’re not ready for and some even feel they are addicted to porn”

    “Recently, the government announced plans for children aged 11 upwards to be taught about rape and sexual consent as part of PSHE in schools. This would include discussion around what they have learnt from watching pornography.”

    “Our campaign clearly compliments this proposal. Across society, we need to remove the embarrassment and shame that exists around talking about porn – which is why we are launching this activity and helping young people to make more informed choices.”

    Dame Esther Rantzen, the Founder of ChildLine said: “It is shocking that children as young as 11 are contacting ChildLine with concerns about porn. Young people are turning to the internet to learn about sex and relationships. We know they are frequently stumbling across porn, often unintentionally, and they are telling us very clearly that this is having a damaging and upsetting effect on them. Girls in particular have said they feel like they have to look and behave like porn stars to be liked by boys.

    “We absolutely have to talk to young people about sex, love, respect and consent as soon as we feel they are ready, to ensure that they gain a proper perspective between real life relationships and the fantasy world of porn.

    “At ChildLine, we always strive to understand the emerging issues children are facing which is why we have launched this new campaign. We consulted with young people throughout the creative development, enabling us to identify language that will engage them and create real impact.

    “I would encourage any young person who has a question or concern to visit our new campaign at www.childline.org.uk/fapz or to contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or online www.childline.org.uk – our counsellors are here 24/7 to offer free, confidential support and advice.”

    One young girl aged between 12-15 years-old who contacted ChildLine, said “I’ve been feeling really insecure about my body since seeing a porn film because I know I'll never be as attractive as the women in them. It upsets me because I think I’m going to end up alone - no one will ever fancy the way I look if I’m compared to them. I wish I’d never watched the film because all it’s done is make me feel rubbish and I didn't even enjoy it.”

    If you are concerned about a child then please encourage them to visit ChildLine’s F.A.P.Z. campaign at www.childline.org.uk/fapz or talk to ChildLine anonymously on 0800 1111 or online www.childline.org.uk. If you’re an adult worried about a child in relation to issues around porn you can visit the NSPCC website for advice and support.

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on April 15, 2015 14:37

    How can SRE advise today's generation on continuing e-safety concerns?

    Cyber Self HarmGNRN? PAW? Mean anything to you? These are acronyms or text language being used to facilitate the teen pastime of 'sexting'; it is currently estimated that at least 39% of teens are doing it. But it's not just all about the language; the sending of sexually suggestive pictures via phones, as we all know, is also a big problem in schools where photos become viral at the touch of a button. Before the sender knows it, the whole school can see them and teachers are left trying to ascertain who’s to blame and whether to involve outside agencies.

    As educators, we are obliged to make intricacies of the law such as the possession and usage of images clear for our students. During my time teaching on workshops about this subject I frequently hold a class questionnaire on common scenarios; my observations are that on nearly all counts adolescents do not have a good handle on the law in this area. Knowing the law helps students make informed decisions and can make the difference in their behaviour; you can see ‘lightbulb’ moments when things are clarified and the realisation that something that can start of as ‘a bit of fun’ can actually be a prosecutable offence. A good example of this is when a male Year 10 student took some pictures for fun of another boy whilst getting changed for P.E, he then sent it to the rest of the class, he was completely aghast to know that his actions could be seen as distribution of indecent images of a person under 18.

    Cyber bullying is still prevalent, being the medium of choice for many bullies who enjoy the power of being able to subject victims to nasty texts 24/7. I imagine for the victim it feels like a mixture of stalking and bullying, unable to escape the contact and not knowing in some cases who is doing it. It can be a challenge to reach the conscience of young people at times; they are still honing empathy skills and perhaps lack the maturity to see the consequences of their actions. This is where pre-planned lessons can really help; with these plans you can use real life stories as examples of the cause and effect of certain actions. Students can then relate to this, helping them see the ramifications of their behaviour.

    Furthermore, sharp increases are being reported by CEOP in paedophiles’ targeting youngsters online to ‘groom’ them as a way of getting them to pass photos and take part in sexual talk through social networking sites. Sex offenders may be finding it easier to gain gratification this way, perhaps with less risk of being caught? Yet another sign of the times is that schools are having to shoulder the responsibility of warning students against such risks.

    Complex issues require a head on approach; the E-safety Support assemblies and lesson plans provide an excellent opportunity to get the message across quickly and effectively to a large number of students. Many benefits are also seen in delivering to specific classes and year groups or targeted students identified as being vulnerable, acting as an early intervention strategy. The PowerPoints provided here really make this easy and problem free; the prescriptive nature of the assembly plan means that perhaps less experienced colleagues can gain confidence and feel comfortable giving information on this subject. It also makes the law surrounding this complex subject much clearer, which can only serve to act as a deterrent or at best a second thought before pressing send.

    NB: text acronyms from above; GNRN = get naked right now and PAW = parents are watching



    If you have any thoughts on this topic, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us using the form below.

    Written by Vicki Dan on March 19, 2014 10:03


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