Special Issue: The Media’s Evolving Role in Sex Education

Entertainment media have long been identified as having a key role to play in education about sex and relationships.

All too often in studies of sexual learning the media have been assessed for their potentially negative effects on young people. For example, studies have correlated consumption of particular media forms with early sexual intercourse or teenage pregnancy, while parents and schools have been seen as providing a positive corrective.

However empirical research shows that this simple binary is not always accurate: in some instances entertainment media may offer positive information and representations while school or parents often offer more moralizing or conservative perspectives. For example, a young person growing up in a homophobic family may see happy queer characters in a sitcom; or young people attending a school thatemphasizes young women’s role as gatekeepers and controllers of men’s sexuality may find helpful TV dramas that explore women’s active sexual agency.

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