Over half of Irish boys first watch porn aged 10-13, worrying new report shows
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Over half of Irish boys first watch porn aged 10-13, worrying new report shows

MORE THAN half of men in Ireland first watched pornography between the ages of 10 and 13, a new study has shown.

A nationwide survey of college students, carried out by NUI Galway, found that less than a quarter of girls (23%) first encountered porn during the same age period compared to 53% of boys.

The findings also reveal that male students are four times more likely than females to watch porn a number of times a week.

The survey is contained in a report on sexual consent among third-level students that highlights the impact of binge drinking, as well as pornography, on the sexual behaviour of young people when they leave home.

Worryingly, NUIG's SMART Consent research team found just over one-third of male students and almost a quarter of females learned how to engage in sexual activity by watching porn.

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'Troubling'

The research, based on the experiences of over 3,500 students, was published on Tuesday by education minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

Some 70% of female students and 40% of male students reported experiencing sexual hostility or crude gender harassment by the time they were finishing third-level education.

The same proportion of women (70%) and more than 60% of men surveyed also felt sex education at secondary school wasn’t satisfactory - while lesbian, gay and bisexual students found it to be even less relevant.

Additionally, gay and bisexual students were found to be more likely than their heterosexual peers to seek explicit consent before engaging in sexual activity.

"The Smart Consent workshop is strongly associated with students feeling knowledgeable and skilled about sexual consent,” said the report's co-author, Dr Siobhán O’Higgins.

“The discussion and peer engagement strategies we use mean it is a workshop, not a class.

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"We encourage students to find their own positive approach to consent, but also know that a full response to this issue involves action outside workshops too, to change the culture in college and society”.

Minister O'Connor described the findings as a "timely piece of research, given that the National Council on Curriculum and Assessment is carrying out a major review of the relationships and sexuality curriculum".

She added: "I found it quite troubling to read these reports, particularly the findings in relation to drink and consent.

“We all, as a society, have a body of work to do."