U.K. survey says more than half of sex education comes from porn

A new study offers some troubling insight into how most children are learning about sex.

Mar 1, 2020, 11:18 am*

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Gavia Baker-Whitelaw 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

computer classroom

A British survey has revealed that more than half of university students rely on porn for sex education.

The survey asked 2,500 students about their experiences with sex education and porn. Sixty percent said that they watched porn to get more information about sex, although 75 percent acknowledged that porn led to unrealistic expectations. 

Most respondents also complained that school-sponsored sex education had failed to teach them about essential topics. A fifth of students said their sex and relationship classes didn’t mention LGBT issues, while two-thirds said they were never taught about consent.

To make matters worse, the British government recently encouraged Internet service providers to introduce content blockers that filter out porn sites and other supposedly “inappropriate” material. Unfortunately, these filters proved so ineffective that they also blocked some sex education websites, so if a teen isn’t able to disable the filters on their Internet connection, they may not be able to access the relevant information outside of school either. 

In Britain, the National Union of Students is lobbying the government to provide better sex and relationship education, stating, “Students regularly report a general lack of practical advice, and worryingly, inadequate or incorrect information about sexuality, contraception and STIs—leaving a black hole of questions filled by friends and websites.” The Union wants sex ed to be given statutory status in high schools, meaning classes would be mandatory like English or math.

The idea of turning to porn for sex education has been around pretty much since porn began, with copies of Playboy and old XXX VHS tapes playing important roles in many adults’ sexual awakenings. But given the ubiquity of free streaming porn on the Internet, it’s never been easier for children to access porn online, which means sex education programs have to work twice as hard to teach students about sex, and help them separate fact from fiction. But if the results of this survey are any indication, they’re not doing such a great job. 

Photo via PurchY0/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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*First Published: Feb 1, 2015, 5:34 pm