Based on available research, most children are likely to have been exposed to pornography by the age of 13. Some research puts it as young as seven.
But should being catcalled, being sent “nudes” and pressure to send them yourself, sexist jokes, extreme pornography, toxic masculinity, – even sexual assault and rape now be accepted as ‘part of growing-up’?
As an antidote to what’s described as ‘lads’ culture’, an interactive play is being performed in schools across Gloucestershire to teach 7,500 teenagers how to call out sexism.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner funded 50 performances in 48 different schools and settings across the county.
The age-appropriate play touches on many areas of sexism and inappropriate behaviour that are so common in young people’s lives. The content and accompanying lesson plan have been designed with young people and experts to help open up conversations about the topic. It also encourages young people to feel empowered to call out inappropriate and sexist behaviours when they see it.
The play is aimed at Year 9 pupils and above and is being performed by Loudmouth Education and Training, a professional theatre in education company who specialise in relationships and safeguarding programmes.
The very first play, named Calling It Out is performed in the county on Monday 26 June.
Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson says: “I was profoundly moved by this play when I watched it. The performers were incredible and got the important messages across in an impactive way that I could see really resonating with teenagers.
“I have made tacking male violence against women and girls one of my top priorities. Misogyny is a systemic societal issue and much more needs to be done to end it. We need to prevent young boys and men having harmful views and attitudes towards women.
“I am really pleased that these innovative, preventative measures will be coming into so many schools in Gloucestershire.”
Safeguarding in Education Manager at Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership’s Georgina Summers said: “With the funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning and Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership, we have been able to fund 50 performances in schools.
“The tour will reach 48 settings which are a range of Secondary Schools, Independent Schools, Colleges and Further Education settings, Special Educational Schools and Alternative Provisions.
“The performance will be shown to students from Year 9 upwards. It is hoped that by the end of this tour approximately 7,500 students in Gloucestershire will have seen this impactful performance.
“Four special performances specifically aimed at PSHE leads within schools will have taken place prior to the school performances to give staff the opportunity to watch the play in advance and also to gain experience in delivering post show workshops to the students to reinforce the messages given in the play and to offer signposting.”