Young Irish people find pornography far more useful for sex education than parental advice 6 months ago

Young Irish people find pornography far more useful for sex education than parental advice

The report also highlights the impact of the #MeToo movement on young people.

Young people in Ireland find that the internet and online pornography are far more "useful" tools for sex education than parents or teachers, a new study has found.

In a report that examines the attitudes of people aged between 14 and 24 towards sex, Youth Work Ireland has found that 20% of respondents found pornography as a useful tool of education, while only 1% felt that their behaviour was in any way influenced by teachers.

Furthermore, the report found that boys were five times more likely (14%) to be influenced by pornography than girls (3%).

The Positive Sexual Relationships Report had a total of 1,056 respondents, and concluded overall that parents and teachers were not being sought as useful sources of information when it came to positive and healthy sexual relationships. Instead, tools such as social media, pornography websites and the internet were treated as far more invaluable.

The report has also highlighted the impact of the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement, noting that while 47% of respondents felt their generation experienced far more sexually inappropriate behaviour than their parents, 45% said that they felt more empowered than previous generations to say no to such behaviour.

50% attributed this sense of empowerment to movements such as #MeToo, while 30% said the movement had made them realise that incidents previously seen as innocent were in fact inappropriate.

Here are some of the other more significant findings from the report:

  • 26% of people are comfortable talking about sex with parents.
  • 92% are more comfortable to talk with friends about sex.
  • 90% said the internet is their most trusted source of information on healthy sexual relationships.
  • Girls are more likely to find information from teachers "not at all useful" and turn to the internet more than boys.
  • 73% are more comfortable talking about sex than their parents.
  • 67% feel they are more informed about healthy sexual relations than their parents.
  • Girls are more likely than boys to have heard about movements, such as #MeToo, but boys are more likely (27%) to reflect on their own behaviour as a result of the movements compared to girls (16%).
  • 61% says they would be confident that they have the knowledge to support any friend if they experienced sexually inappropriate behaviour, while 36% said they would want to help, but don't feel confident about how to.
  • 42% said that they do not feel confident that good help or support systems are available in their locality for someone who experienced inappropriate behaviour.

Commenting on the report, Dr Patrick Burke, CEO at Youth Work Ireland said: "This report clearly demonstrates that the Government urgently needs to deliver a comprehensive overhaul of relationship and sexual health education in Irish Schools, building on best practice with no opt outs.

"Increasingly we see the critical role of quality education for young people on relationships and healthy approaches to sexuality. Young people and others see key shortcomings in the school’s system. Youth workers and volunteers often have to fill this gap. We now need a guarantee of universal quality education in this area and the youth work sector can play an important part."

The report comes following a bill based on the importance of updating the sexual education curriculum in Ireland passed the committee stage of the Dáil on Thursday, 19 April.

The Education Committee will now go on to meet on 1 May and 15 May to discuss the issue, inviting submissions from the general public.