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Porn and teens report should serve as a wake-up call

The Office of Film and Literature Classification’s (OFLC) survey of more than 2000 young people about pornography highlights that sexuality education provides an opportunity for a vital counter-narrative to porn that could reach most young New Zealanders. This is an issue Family Planning has been raising for some time.

The project, NZ Youth and Porn: Research findings of a survey on how and why young New Zealanders view online pornography, provides a local context for why we need comprehensive sexuality and relationships education for young people in New Zealand.

"This report is a helpful addition to the research and information we have on this issue. Most compellingly I believe is that the young people in the survey have themselves told us that they want more and better relationships and sexuality education" Family Planning Chief Executive Jackie Edmond says.

"Often the information we have is not specific to our country. Importantly with this survey the voice of young people is being heard on this issue and they themselves are saying they need more and better sexuality education."

Two thirds of the respondents, aged 14 to 17 years-old have been exposed to porn. One in four have seen porn before the age of 12. Seventy-two percent of teens who seen things that made them feel uncomfortable. Many young people watching porn don’t know how to stop watching porn. "There is no need to wait for any more research that confirms what we already know - our young people need comprehensive relationships and sexuality education. This needs to be delivered consistently by experienced teachers working alongside parents and the community,".

The report suggests that whenever young people are learning about sex and relationships, porn education should form part of the discussion. High quality sexuality education obviously covers porn, but it’s about so much more than that.

Healthy relationships, emotions, consent, communication, media, identity and beliefs should all be part of a comprehensive programme to support growing young people.

Research shows that encouraging young people to think about personal relationships, rights and responsibilities, as well as future dreams and goals, are important parts of effective sexuality education.

The OFLC says that many parents would also appreciate support in navigating these issues with their children. They have said that the report could serve as an opportunity to promote sexuality and relationships resources and make them easy to find.

Family Planning has resources on our website that we provide free to schools and parents.

Comprehensive sexuality education is a partnership and shared responsibility between parents, whānau, teachers, schools and the community. Young people benefit from having open, positive conversations with their caregivers about sexuality, together with the formal sexuality education they get at school.

Research shows that when people have access to comprehensive sexuality education, and health services, they are more likely to delay having sex, have fewer sexual partners and use condoms or contraception.

While sexuality education is required in the New Zealand Curriculum from Year 1 to Year 10, it is taught differently across schools with no requirement for topics covered. An Education Review Office (ERO) report released earlier this year found most schools would benefit from support to improve the way they teach sexuality education and ensure that young people are prepared for life-changing decisions.

Family Planning advocates for teachers, school leaders and community organisations to have the resources and support they need to teach effective, culturally relevant comprehensive sexuality education and to develop partnerships with parents and whānau.

We encourage open, and constructive conversations at home and in the community about healthy relationships, and sexual and reproductive health and well-being including pornography.


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