Scottish young people need more support to counter harmful attitudes and stereotypes
A report published today (18/02/14) by Scottish charity, Zero Tolerance finds that young people in Scotland find sex and relationship education in school not good enough. Only 25% of survey participants said their main source of information about these topics was school and 15% of boys said pornography was their main source of information on the subject.
Based on a survey of 237 14 to 19 year olds as well as focus groups with 40 young people aged between 14 and 24, the report found that many young people would like more information on sex and relationships that also covers a multitude of topics including pleasure, gender and LGBT issues, among others.
Participants saw regular use of pornography by boys as the norm, with almost 60% of male survey participants saying that boys their age see pornography deliberately every day. Many said that boys who do not show approval of pornography are ridiculed, with one young man commenting: “If you don’t like porn, you’re not really a boy.” Aggressive or violent pornography was considered commonplace, with participants saying it is impossible to avoid pornography even if they don’t want to see it and that most of it is “brutal” and “degrading”.
While most girls did not feel pressured to view pornography by their peer groups, they described pornography and sexualised media as perpetuating double standards that mean girls have to please boys while avoiding being branded ‘sluts’. According to one participant: “If a woman wants to be as openly sexually active as a man, who would be idolised for it, she is criticised”. Both boys and girls felt they are exposed regularly to sexualised media, with 66% of boys and 43% of girls saying they see overtly sexualised images every day.
A spokesperson for Zero Tolerance said: “While some schools deliver excellent RSHPE (relationships, sexual health and parenting education) there is little consistency across Scotland, and many young people feel very let down by the sex education they receive. Comprehensive sex and relationships education which challenges sexualisation and gendered double standards is crucial to young people’s wellbeing, and the Scottish Government must do more to ensure that teachers, as well as parents and youth workers, are able to support young people on these topics.”
The full report can be viewed here.