RSE KS4: Teaching Porn Awareness

Presenter and YouTuber Mimi Missfit takes seven British teens to Holland to learn from the world leaders in sex education.

She states that porn awareness can’t be ignored, because we are living in an increasingly digital age where teenagers, and even children, can access porn at the click of a button.

The teens watch a Dutch government sponsored advertisement on porn awareness, thinking the video may be going somewhere else.

Yuri highlights how people can get a distorted view of sexuality through watching porn.

Munashe and Alys reflect on the discussion afterwards.

The teens pose three anonymous questions to Yuri and he gives his answers one by one.

This short film is from the BBC series, Mimi on a Mission: Sex Ed. For further episodes please visit the BBC iPlayer.

Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, we strongly advise teacher viewing before watching with your pupils.

Teacher Notes

Before watching the film

This short film is suitable for 14-16 year olds however always make yourself familiar with the content and consider carefully whether it will be appropriate and of use for your specific cohort. (every class is different, even if they are in the same year group).

Check your school policies to make sure you follow school guidelines and talk to a member of the SLT (Senior Leadership Team) if in doubt about anything.

Check to see if any of your class have any child protection issues or are vulnerable children.

Once you are confident it is the right resource for your pupils, watch it through alone and consider how it would work best for you all.

This short film might also be useful for teachers to use in CPD sessions (Continuing Professional Development).

During the lesson/watching the film

Set up a working agreement with the class and create a list of ground rules for the session so everyone feels safe and able to talk and join in discussions without being judged. Remember to include a reminder to always talk to a trusted adult if anything in the film makes your students feel uncomfortable – perhaps create a list of ‘go-to’ people in the school with them.

Also, due to the sensitivity of this subject, add a rule that no personal information, experiences or names are shared.

You could start the lesson by discussing the title ‘Teaching Porn Awareness’ and using this as a starter. (NB: Discussion can be in pairs, small groups or as a whole class – choose what works best for your pupils).

The film shows Mimi with some British teenagers in the Netherlands (one of the world leaders in sex education), where they meet a Sexologist called Yuri Ohlrichs and discuss pornography.

Mimi says that she thinks this is one of the hardest topics to talk about but she feels it can’t be ignored.

  • What do your pupils think? Why?

On meeting Yuri, the first thing he does is show them a Government sponsored advertisement that is shown throughout the Netherlands.

It appears to be the start of a pornographic film however it stops just before anything sexual happens and one of the actresses says “educate your child about sex before we do”.

Yuri says encouraging parents to talk to their children about porn prevents children from getting a one-sided, distorted image of sexuality. He agrees that it’s one of the most important and tricky topics to talk about as it is so taboo across the world.

Maneshe is the first to give his thoughts. He says he was a bit worried about what he was watching and was happy it stopped when it did.

  • Did your pupils feel the same?
  • Do they think this is a good ad’ or not? Why?

Yuri says that sex educators in the Netherlands say, “This is something that people watch, when you watch it, when you see it, know what it is for and that it’s for arousal and that it’s just a caricature basically of human sexuality.”

  • Do your pupil’s understand what a caricature is?
  • Do they know what arousal mean?
  • Do they think Yuri and the other Dutch sex educators are right? Why?

Alys says that porn is a part of life. She goes on to say, “Everyone watches it at some point in their life. Whether that’s going out to find it, whether it gets sent to them, whether they just come across it, and it’s important that people know it’s not an accurate representation of sex.”

  • Do your pupils agree with Alys?
  • Why do they think it’s important that people know it's not ‘an accurate representation’?

Mimi hands out some anonymous questions for them to ask Yuri. (If you feel confident you could put these questions directly to the class before listening to Yuri’s answers. If you do this make sure you remind the class about the working agreement).

Q1: I’m worried my penis looks too small compared to the men in porn, should I worry?

  • A: “No, they choose men with extreme large penises, don’t worry about it, every penis is alright.”

Yuri explains that asking anonymous questions needs the right atmosphere. He says it’s very important that teachers give space to the young people.

Q2: “Can porn reduce real life satisfaction?”

  • A: "If you believe that porn is reality and you try to strive for a pornographic sex life then you might be dissatisfied because your regular sex life is never going to be like the sex life presented to you in porn".

Maneshe thinks porn awareness should be taught because it’s better that it’s “coming from someone responsible and older than us.” He says how he took what he had learnt from Yuri about porn to his mates and feels that this really benefited them.

Q3: “Is watching porn bad for you?”

  • A: "No, it’s not bad for you. What’s very important however is that when you watch porn is that you realise it’s the portrayal of a fantasy. Enjoy the arousal and enjoy the exploration of your own sexuality but don’t try it at home like the way it is portrayed in porn.”

If you felt confident you could replicate this and allow your pupils to write out some anonymous questions about porn you could say you will pass these on to SLT to incorporate into the relationships and sex education curriculum, or if you feel confident, you could answer them in either this lesson ,or if you need time to prepare yourself and your answers, the next RSE lesson.

Mimi says everyone has a different angle on this subject but she does think it’s time we all started talking more openly.

  • What do your pupils think of this idea? Why?

Alys sends a final message to teachers, “Please start teaching lessons about porn awareness. A lot of us have the same questions and they’re just not being answered because we are all too embarrassed to talk about it.”

  • Do your pupils agree?
  • What do they feel they need?

Maneshe finishes by saying, “It’s better to educate us on porn before porn educates us.”

  • Do your pupils have any final thoughts on this?

At the end of your session allow time for any questions or further discussion, pull everything together and make sure you allow for some quiet reflection at the end.

Always check in with the group and remind them to talk to someone if anything they have seen or discussed has made them feel uncomfortable and always signpost where they can get further support or information both within and outside of school. ChildLine will talk to people right up to the age of 19 for support and is free to use.

Curriculum Notes

These short films were created in consultation with a PSHE education expert and will fit within:

  • Citizenship and PSHE (RSE) in England.
  • The Curriculum for Excellence (Health & Wellbeing Education) in Scotland.
  • Learning for Life and Work in Northern Ireland.
  • Personal and Social Education (PSE) in Wales.

More from Mimi on a Mission: Sex Ed

Teaching Them Young
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Teaching Relationships and Sex Education Positively
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Teaching Inclusivity at School
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Teaching Sexting Awareness
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