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Teen girls may be the biggest losers when it comes to navigating a popular culture that is high-tech and hyper-sexualized. They are bombarded by media messages telling them they have to put themselves out there sexually in order to be popular and cool - a generation pushed to flaunt its sexuality without grasping the consequences. It has fostered a climate of sexual harassment and bullying among youth. In this program, an all female and culturally diverse teen group from East Toronto decode the pitfalls of pursuing popularity at the expense of being true to themselves. Be advised that this program contains mature themes and coarse language.
Listen to Part 3
It's no secret that teens today are under pressure to navigate a tangled web of lies, sex and power trips in their social relationships. What we may not realize is the impact our hyper-sexualized popular culture is having on teen sexual behaviours and attitudes. Recent Canadian research finds that some 85 per cent of teens report they have been targets of sexual harassment or assault by their friends and classmates during their school careers. In the final episode, teens from West Toronto take us on an unprecedented insider's tour through all ages nightclubs, on dates gone very wrong and teen rebellion - a cautionary tale for every adolescent and parent. Be advised that this program contains mature themes and coarse language.
IT'S A TEEN'S WORLD is a multi-platform project including:
A comprehensive website to support families and educators in their
efforts to promote healthy and respectful relationships among teens.
Visit the IT'S A TEEN'S WORLD website for more information.
About the Teens
There are 21 teen participants in the documentary film and radio series from three areas of Toronto. In addition to sharing their personal stories about navigating a hyper-sexualized culture, each group undertook the task of making an 8-minute fictional film about social and sexual pressures in teen life. They came up with original scenarios with only one condition imposed - the story could not be a Hollywood version of teens but something true to their own real life experience. Over several months, they wrote the scripts, attended filmmaking boot camps, directed and acted in their films. Selected scenes from each film appear in the documentary. The complete dramas have been adapted as educational modules on the topic of teen sexual harassment for use in the classroom and youth groups.
In Central Toronto, the group members comprise 3 siblings - Billy, Maria and Stephanie (17, 16 and 14 years old respectively) who are proud of their Greek heritage. Maria's poignant story of a sexual assault that happened to her in middle school sends an important message to all youth. 16-year-old Mikey moved here from Yellowknife three years ago. He's on the football team and is the guy who knows everyone and everything that goes on in his high school. 14-year-old Ryan - he composed lyrics to a rap song for the film - aspires to be in the music business and has just started a recording company with a friend. Their short dramatic film Under Pressure highlights the consequences of sexual rumours on the high school careers of many people they know.
East Toronto is an all female group from diverse cultural backgrounds and are in Grades 10 to 12. The idea for their short dramatic film The Pursuit of Popularity stems from their experience of seeing many girls start high school in the misguided belief that they have to be sexy in order to be "cool". The main character Jane is actually played by a different girl in every scene to demonstrate that anyone from any background can be negatively influenced by this kind of peer pressure. For their film research, the group interviews 3 girls just finishing Grade 8 - Pam, Olivia and Alessa - who offer candid insight into the real teen pressures of doing what it takes to fit in. Olivia's Mom - a high school teacher - gives her daughter and the viewer a powerful analysis of the influence of pop culture and how that's changed since her own adolescence.
In West Toronto, a group of 5 kids just graduating from Grade 10 choose a dark theme for their short dramatic film It Could Happen To You. It is a cautionary tale of teen rebellion involving a creepy boyfriend, the no-holds-barred environment at an All Ages Club and a date rape drug. 15-year-old Marta brought much of her real-life experience to the script. She has been clubbing since her 13th birthday and mid-way through filming the documentary, she decided to party all weekend with her friends without telling her parents where she was. Marta came home safely but some wild teens find themselves in situations they cannot control, with tragic consequences.
Lynn Glazier's career as a documentary director, producer and writer spans 28 years. She directed the acclaimed feature documentary It's a Girl's World on social bullying (NFB 2004). The film has won several national and international awards and garnered international attention in New Zealand, Australia, the US, and in Japan where it was seen in theatres. Her latest project, It's a Teen's World: wired for sex, lies and power trips (2009), is a thematic sequel that explores how sexual aggression fueled by personal technology and media contributes to a culture of harassment in adolescents.
Glazier has also created educational videos, study guides and web content about social bullying and sexual harassment and is in demand as a speaker on the issues to teachers, parents and students. As companion pieces to her films, she produces radio documentary series for CBC Radio's national program of contemporary thought, IDEAS, and won Program of the Year in the CBC national radio competition for this version of It's a Girl's World.
Previous film producing credits include the Gemini-nominated Boxing: In and Out of the Ring about corruption in professional heavyweight boxing (2001) and Parts 1 and 2 of the critically acclaimed CBC TV documentary series Canada: A People's History.
Glazier's award-winning radio documentaries from around the world could be heard on CBC's national program Sunday Morning from 1983 - 1997.
Glazier has an Honours B.A. in English Language and Literature and an M.A. in Journalism, both degrees from the University of Western Ontario.
Girl Guides of Canada
How to prevent sexting: Sexting tips from Safekids.com
Information about Bullying in Canada
Kids Help Phone
Love is not Abuse- Relationship Violence
Men For Change
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Respect Yourself Campaign
Safe and Caring Schools
School-based violence prevention programs
Teen Relationship Project
Teen Relationships Website
The Aboriginal Youth Network
Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre. Sexual Harassment in School: Your Rights & Responsibilities, Teachers Manual. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary, 1997.
Brandenburg, Judith B. Confronting Sexual Harassment: What Schools & Colleges Can Do. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 1997.
Clavier, Ron. Teen Brain, Teen Mind: What Parents need to Know to Survive the Adolescent Years. Key Porter Books, 2005.
Cohan, Audrey M. & Hergenrother, Johnson Y. & Mandel L. & Sawyer J. Sexual Harassment & Sexual Abuse: A Handbook for Teachers & Administrators. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press, Inc. 1996.\
Duncan, Neil. Sexual Bullying: Gender Conflict & Pupil Culture in Secondary Schools. Routledge, 1999.
Larkin, June. Sexual Harassment: High School Girls Speak Out. Second Story Press, 1994.
McLaughlin, Miriam Smith & Peyser, Sandra. Preventing Sexual Harassment in Schools. Enslow Publishers, 1999.
Nash, Carol Rust. Sexual Harassment: What Teens Should Know. Enslow Publishers, 1996.
Stein, Nan & Sjostrom, Lisa. Flirting or Hurting? A Teacher's Guide on Student-to-Student Sexual Harassment in Schools. Washington, D.C.: National Education Association & Wellesley College Centre on Women, 1994.Strauch, Barbara. The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries About the Teenage Brain Tell Us About Our Kids. Anchor Books, 2003.