Porn a source of sex education for kids?

Nimhans put on record the case of a teenage student for whom pornography served as a source of sex education. (Representative image)

In a first, researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) have put on record the case of a teenage student for whom pornography served as a source of sex education.

Researchers have, however, explicitly stated that the case is not about porn addiction. The study, “Is porn use becoming a modality of sex education among teenagers?” has been accepted by an international journal.

When the school student walked into the clinic at Nimhans that looks into tech addiction, parents said that they had caught her viewing porn on her mobile phone on multiple occasions.

Worried, they approached psychiatrists who counselled her and found that she was using porn to understand sex. She said she was viewing the site for understanding aspects of sex and anatomy.

“She attributed porn exploration to peer discussion about sex and porn as well as lack of opportunity to clarify or discuss in family context or in a school setting. She was spending 30 to 40 minutes a day on porn sites. There was a history of peer group sharing of this content,” said the publication.

An understanding of what the human anatomy looks like and sex education could possibly be drawing a lot of teenagers towards porn, say, mental health experts, which could, in turn, be putting many at risk of addiction to porn and long term effects such as unrealistic expectations. 

“Although it is being spoken about in school, children think of porn as a medium of understanding sex and sexuality. There is a need for sex education which is more systematic.

There is a need to cover physiology. Teachers and parents should communicate better and clear the myths so that children do not have to learn it from online platforms and teachers should have group discussions with students about sex and sexuality,” said Dr Manoj Sharma, professor of Clinical Psychology, SHUT (Service for Healthy Use of Technology) Clinic.

Dr K G Jagadeesha, commissioner, department of public instruction said that they would seek a copy of the report from Nimhans. “If there is a concrete recommendation on what needs to be incorporated, we will have it placed before the expert committee at DSERT and have it examined.

“We will have to see what is age-appropriate, how practical it is for teachers to explain and also whether it is acceptable to parents as seen in the Indian context. The last time the discussion had come up, there was reluctance,” he said.

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