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Access to Pornography Among Teenagers on the Rise

sexual behaviours, attitudes, values and beliefs by enabling this kind of exposure and not talking with kids about it in any meaningful way,” Thompson said.

Thompson, formerly a sex education teacher, is concerned about the health and social messages pornography sends. Excessive early exposure to pornography may be harmful in terms of expectations going into relationships. “What kinds of expectations will these young people have going into their first sexual relationships? It may be setting up a big disconnect between boys and girls and may be normalizing risky sex practices.”

Almost half of rural youths in the survey reported seeing pornographic videos or DVDs at least once, compared to one-third of the urban participants. Thompson is unsure why rural teens access porn more on video and DVD, but suggests that parents may think distance acts as a buffer. “Maybe they have a false sense of thinking they are far away from unhealthy influences.” Rural boys also reported a lower incidence of parents talking with them about sexual media content. Urban girls were most likely to have had discussions with their parents.

And while the majority of teens surveyed said their parents expressed concern about sexual content, that concern hasn’t led to discussion or supervision, and few parents are using available technology to block sexual content.

“It indicates there is plenty of room for better parenting around pornography use. Parents need to improve dialogue with their children and their own awareness level. They have to be educated enough to be the ones setting the boundaries in the house,” Thompson said. “Families using media together is no longer the norm, so parents need to know what their kids have access to in their alone time,” Thompson said.

Teachers also need to tackle the issue in sex education classes, she added. “Obviously it’s a huge influence on kids and it needs to be talked about. There’s a whole subcu
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