Friday 22 February 2019

Calls for porn literacy to be included in sex education 'to remove the stigma'

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Teenagers should be taught porn literacy as part of their sex education, according to a report from NUI Galway researchers.

It said that with "significant proportions" of male and female adolescents reportedly engaging with pornography, it is a critical influence on the sexual socialisation of youth.

Young people "need to be supported to develop the competence to distinguish between positive and negative models of sexual health and relationship from the pornography they watch", it said.

The findings, published in 'The Journal of Sex Research', are based on research by PhD student Kate Dawson. Co-authors were Saoirse NicGabhainn and Pádraig MacNeela, of the NUIG schools of health promotion and psychology.

They are all part of an NUI Galway team that have developed an education programme around promoting a positive, proactive approach to sexual consent.

Ms Dawson surveyed and interviewed college students, aged 18-29, on what input was needed for teenagers in terms of porn literacy.

She said that at the forefront of the debate around inclusion of pornography in sex education is the negative effects of pornography engagement, although research showed few people experienced adverse effects from watching it.

The report likened porn literacy to media literacy and noted that young people who acquire media literacy skills have greater capacity to deconstruct media messages and the intentions behind their presentations than those who do not.

She said her study has demonstrated that eliminating stigma is central to porn literacy.

"Participants acknowledged that pornography is here to stay and, rather than trying to fight against it, youth should have the opportunity to discuss its content and acquire tools to navigate their sexuality," said Ms Dawson.

Irish Independent

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