Esteem lessons on the media, consent, coercion and respect help young people identify how porn can negatively influence a person's views on relationships and sex, and identify how porn is not a representation of real life. For small groups of particularly vulnerable young men, our Boys' Project includes a session on 'The Media and your Mind' which explores unrealistic, inaccurate, and negative portrayals of relationships and sex in the media, including pornography.
15-year-old Jamie speaks about his relationship with online pornography
"It felt really weird seeing on my newsfeed the number of people dying from COVID-19 every day. I didn’t really get it until my Mum got sick.
She works in a hospital as a physio. They had so many COVID patients that she got moved to help in the COVID ward. We don’t know if that’s where she caught it - she could have got it when she went on the bus or when she was shopping - but, however it happened, we were so shocked.
She was at home coughing a lot and we weren’t allowed to go in her room in case we got it. We had to be off school too. That was so annoying as everyone else was back at school by then. At least I could do my school work online, and even though I couldn’t go out in the evenings and see my mates, I could game with some friends online.
I don’t know how it happened, but one day I just clicked on one of the screens that came up when I was gaming. It asked me if I wanted to chat to a girl and I thought I might as well as I was getting bored of my gaming mates. I ended up seeing all these images of a girl doing stuff, like sexual stuff. It felt wrong to watch it, but the next night I just felt curious and wanted to see it again. I kept going back to the website each night after gaming. It felt like a way of escaping so I wouldn’t be so worried about Mum.
Mum was really struggling to breathe so she had to go into hospital. It was so awful as we couldn’t be with her. We could only speak to her through video calls. She looked so sick and we were so scared she might die and be one of the numbers they kept reporting on the news.
I got more into looking at different videos of sexual stuff. It gave my brain something else to think about.
It made me feel less stressed for a bit, but then I would be left feeling a bit weird. I know other people at school look at these videos so it felt like it wasn’t a big deal, but I’ve started to feel really empty afterward and like something isn’t quite right.
I feel uncomfortable seeing girls getting hurt sometimes. Some of them look the same age as me.
Mum is back at home now, but is still really tired and weak. It’s so great to have her home.
I’ve still been looking at the videos, but it’s making me feel a bit yucky. No one really talks about this stuff so I don’t know what to do about it. I’d like to talk to my Mum, but she’s got enough on her plate, and I don’t know if I can talk to my Dad about this stuff.
Talking about it with someone who understands would really help."
*name & image changed to protect identity
"I learned about the difference between porn and reality. Pornography is staged. Some people use porn as a guide to how sex should be like and this is not the best way. Porn makes males seem more dominant and it lies about the average size of male penises. Not all people want anal sex, some of the positions and practices are not what sex is like in real life. Women do not need to shave their pubic hair as it is normal and serves a protective purpose." Feedback from students after an Esteem lesson called 'The Media Challenge.'
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