Film tackles coercion and effects of pornography on teenage sexual behaviour

Issue date: 16 September 2021


A collaborative short film addressing the issue of consent and the effects of pornography on sexual relationships among young people is to be used as an educational resource by five secondary schools in South Gloucestershire. Dare was produced thanks to a collaboration between UWE Bristol’s Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing and the Department of Film and Journalism. Production of the 14-minute film also involved St Mary’s Redcliffe school’s drama department and Bristol Old Vic Theatre school.

The idea was born from a UWE Bristol research project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, that looked at gender relations among young people and their sexual health. Project Lead Jo White and a team of teenage researchers she trained interviewed 15 young people aged 16-18 to find out their experience of intimate relationships.

Jo, who is Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Some of the stories we heard were quite striking and we were quite surprised to hear about coercion and the influence of pornography on sexual behaviour among teenagers. We therefore wanted to turn these findings into a creative output that highlighted these important issues.”

After approaching the University’s Department of Film and Journalism, Jo teamed up with Liz Banks, who is Senior Lecturer for Photography and Film, and they co-wrote the script for an educational film using the interview material from the research and input from one of the teenage researchers, the young actors in the film, and a script specialist from the University.

Liz, who directed the film, said: “Because of the nature of the project, we felt it was really important to work directly with young people when writing the script so as to capture their voices and their colloquialisms, because otherwise the message might not be heard.”

UWE Bristol photography students contributed to the film’s production and A-Level drama students from St Mary’s Redcliffe school acted in the drama. Meanwhile, Bristol Old Vic Theatre school technical students contributed to the film making process and post production.

UWE Bristol then approached sexual health specialists working with schools in South Gloucestershire to gauge interest in using Dare. Jo said: “We found from our study interviews that a lot of sex education within schools is very biologically focused and does not address the many questions young people have. We felt we needed to find a fresher way of highlighting how sex impacts young men and women and opening up new conversations.”

Kings Oak Academy, The Castle School, Bradley Stoke Community School, Chipping Sodbury School and Hanham Woods Academy will be using the film between September and December 2021. They will use it alongside an educational resource package, designed by Jo White and Nikki Giles, Specialist Health Improvement Practitioner (Sexual Health), South Gloucestershire Council, as part of their Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) classes.

The package includes discussion activities based on key scenes in the film and learning exercises related to recognising and developing healthy relationships, as well as the impact of pornography on sexual relations.

The film is to be shown to year ten pupils, aged 14, although each school will decide how it uses the resource and in which year group.

“Feedback from the schools has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Jo, “especially as the film is aligned to legal requirements around RSE teaching. The schools also recognise that teaching about pornography and its impact on young people is a challenge among secondary school teachers. Having a ‘ready to use’ resource that touches on this subject has been received very positively.”

Dare is available for viewing on UWE Bristol’s YouTube channel here. Please be warned that the film tackles coercive behaviour, which some may find upsetting. If you are affected by these issues, advice and support is available at Brook as well as other organisations.

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