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Online pornography – Should schools be teaching young people about the risks? An exploration of the views of young people and teaching professionals

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The Internet has made sexually explicit media more accessible to young people. Online pornography is diverse, can be very graphic, and a large amount is available free of charge with restrictions varying by country. Many young people are accessing online pornography, intentionally or unintentionally, and there are fears that this could impact on their sexual development and future relationships. Current research into the effects of viewing pornography on attitudes and behaviours of young people is patchy and often contradictory. Via an anonymous survey of 218 young people and focus group discussions with 23 teaching professionals in outer London schools, this study examines whether young people and teaching professionals consider pornography use to have harmful effects, and if they feel schools should be incorporating teaching about online pornography in their educational programmes. Findings reveal that young people and teachers perceive there to be many negative effects of viewing pornography, particularly at a young age. Young people and teachers agree that schools should teach about the risks associated with online pornography viewing. Recommendations for schools about how to facilitate discussion of issues surrounding pornography use as part of the wider sex education programme are made, including the involvement of parents.
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Keywords: Sexually explicit media; education; online pornography; schools; young people

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Education and Professional Studies, King’s College London, London, UK

Publication date: March 3, 2016

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