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Brief

Is Porn the New Sex Education?

Published on 21 November 2016

Over the past 15 years, internet pornography has become the predominant channel through which young people learn about sex, not just in the developed world, but increasingly in developing countries too. In many developing countries, traditional gatekeepers of sex education, such as governments, religious leaders and parents, still attempt to keep sexuality out of the public sphere.

But they are mainly effective only at preventing sex education in the classroom, leaving young people to learn about sex online. There, genuine sex educators compete for their audience against widespread amateur and professional pornography and the new gatekeepers such as Facebook enforcing self-determined censorship, banning even simple information including guides to breast self-examination.

To develop a comprehensive sex education strategy for young people that aims to reduce maternal and child mortality, unwanted pregnancy, sexual violence and includes the realities of sex and pleasure, policymakers and sex educators need to engage with new and traditional gatekeepers, porn distributors and young people themselves.

Authors

Image of Pauline Oosterhoff
Pauline Oosterhoff

Research Fellow

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Publication details

published by
IDS
authors
Oosterhoff, P., Gilder, L. and Mueller, C.
journal
IDS Rapid Response Briefing, issue 15

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Research themes
Inequalities and Poverty

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