Meet Johnny Condom, myth exploder

27th February 1998 at 00:00
JOHNNY CONDOM video. resource pack. The Frank Foundation. pound;48..

Age range: 118.

For those who work with young people, this video pack could be just the material they are looking for in a sexual health programme.

It has been produced by the Frank Foundation, with endorsement by the World Health Organisation and Tees Health Authority, among others.

The first film, Johnny Condom - the Education Video, lasting 10 furious minutes, aims to engage people in considering their own sexual attitudes and practices.

Using the familiar format of cartoon, Spitting Image puppets, celebrity sound-bites and an annoyingly catchy song, the video is an in-your-face experience, pressing home a clear message about using condoms to prevent pregnancy and disease. The female condom is, unfortunately, only mentioned briefly.

In a section called Great Lies of the Twentieth Century, various myths about getting pregnant or getting a sexually transmitted disease are demolished fairly and squarely, and the Bother Brothers make sure that it is not just straight men who get the message.

Women and gay men are urged to remember condoms too.

A small, rather flimsy but packed folder of student activities comes in the pack, and the second, 30-minute video shows the written material being used in a workshop setting. This video and the student activities are the meat of the package. Showing the student video only is not enough.

In the second video, Tim Gristwood, trainer and author of the materials, works through the activities with groups of young people.

As part of a training session for teachers or youth workers unused to this area of work, a skilled trainer could raise the pertinent issues about the sexual health content and about how to facilitate small group work successfully.

The written materials are extremely good. Covering areas such as analysing information, acknowledging our attitudes and values, coping with pressure and thinking about the consequences of what we do, the 12 activities, together with factsheets, crosswords and the song, give a lot of scope for the teacher. Each one is described clearly and simply, with enough detail, and there is also guidance on how to create a balanced programme depending on how much time is available.

My main criticism is that, although the material is aimed at a mixed audience, I didn't think enough attention was paid to young women's needs.

Yes, they are told to carry condoms at all times, as are young men. But more consideration of the particular pressures to have sex that young women encounter would have been useful.

There also seemed to be an assumption that everyone is having sex, while little attention is given to the fact that people have differing sexual needs and experiences.

Anyone using the material would need to prepare it carefully and amend the chosen activities where necessary.

A The pack is available from Johnny Condom Ltd, Southlands Business Centre, Ormesby Road, Middlesbrough, Cleveland 1S3 OHB. Fax: 01642 320160 .

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