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Report finds young people using internet for sex education

Young people are turning to the internet for sex education, according to a report by Youth Work Ireland.

A new report shows young people are reluctant to speak about relationships with parents or teachers, while 20% find pornography useful as a training aid.

Dr Patrick Burke, chief executive officer of Youth Work Ireland, said the Government urgently needs to deliver a comprehensive overhaul of relationship and sexual health education in schools.

"Increasingly we see the critical role of quality education for young people on relationships and healthy approaches to sexuality.

"Young people and others see key shortcomings in the schools system. Youth workers and volunteers often have to fill this gap.

"We now need a guarantee of universal quality education in this area and the youth work sector can play an important part."

A Positive Sexual Relationships survey from Youth Work Ireland questioned 1,056 people aged between 14 and 24 and was carried out over the last month.

It found that young people were turning to the internet and social media for relationship information.

Half felt they experienced more inappropriate behaviour than the previous generation.

Youth Work Ireland said: "The hugely important report also finds that 42% of respondents said that they do not feel confident that good help and supports are available in their locality for someone who experienced inappropriate sexual behaviour.

"Youth workers are proving to be a critical missing link for providing advice and support on healthy sexual relationships between young people and more formal authorities like teachers and even parents."

Youth Work Ireland's Michael McLoughlin says that does not come as a surprise.

Mr McLoughlin said: "I think we need to change the space where we have the conversation - classroom settings, chalk and talk, open your books and let's talk about sex - this probably isn't the way to do this and I think teachers realise this.

"We've got to have a more equal kind of conversation, so in youth work we like to sit down more equally with people and have conversations around other activities, it might be sport or music, and you'd be talking to young people all the time about what's going on in their lives."

Youth Work Ireland says it found out that one in five youngsters think porn is a useful training aid.

Joanna Fortune, Child Psychotherapist, says it is warping their body image.

Ms Fortune said: "Girls perceive that they are expected by the boys, or the people they are in a relationship with, to have the body type of porn stars.

"So we have very young girls going for full body waxing from the age of 13 onwards."

- Digital Desk and PA