Sex education needed at home and school
A new survey published this week by Youth Work Ireland found that one in five young people in the age 12 to 14 age bracket felt that internet pornography is a 'useful' source of information regarding relationships.
If this reflects the view of young teenagers across the country, then serious intervention is required to counteract this myth and to provide them with real and reliable information, that will help them feel informed and trusted by their parents and educators.
It is not known if this is just the view of these children and teens, or whether they have been exposed to online pornography, but if this is just a naive view, it probably wouldn't be surprising if they soon attempted to access it.
A lot of comment has lashed out at schools about having inadequate sex education available to students, but in truth much of the information around sex and relationships should come from parents.
Children and teenagers who are accessing pornography, or attempting to aren't doing so in school, but rather at home or on a smart device supplied to them by their parents, so to place all the responsibility on the education system is short-sighted.
There should be a dual-approach to educate our young people in this area, without giving them scraps of information here and there, and to address the emotional side of sex, relationships, respect and consent.
The biology lessons of old won't cut the mustard these days, but equally, parents have to be aware of where else their children are sourcing information.
If, at a tender age, they start to believe that pornography is a realistic representation of relationships, then this is likely to create major problems for them in later life.
If the first representation of sex a child or teenager has is a scripted pornographic movie it's easy to see that they might think that this is the way couples, act with one another and this could be difficult to change.
If young people are turning to this as a way to get information, then it indicates that aside from curiosity, the need for information is also prompting this interest.
If they were getting adequate and appropriate and real information through more reliable and responsible channels, then they would be much better equipped to differentiate between a fantasy and real life and make more mature decisions as adults.