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Young people and sexually explicit material

Family Planning supports relationships and sexuality education for all young people so they can gain knowledge and skills to manage conflicting messages from sexually explicit material.

Sexually explicit material includes video, movies, TV shows, magazines or photographs, showing images and acts related to sex. Sexually explicit material includes pornography. Sexually explicit material can be found offline and online, often for free, and accessible to anyone. This availability means there are many opportunities for children and young people to encounter such material – whether on purpose or by accident. While research on the effects of pornography is still ongoing, it is clear that sexually explicit material features in some way in the lives of most young people.

Young people need to develop the skills, knowledge, and values to manage their experience with sexually explicit material. Sexually explicit material may affect young people’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours related to sex and relationships. Not all young people will be negatively impacted by sexually explicit material, including pornography, and for some young people it may be a positive part of their sexuality. However, because sexually explicit material often shows dominance and violence, negative gender stereotypes, and unrealistic body images, it is important that young people have the skills to think critically about what they are viewing, and how it relates to real life and relationships.


Holistic relationships and sexuality education is a partnership and shared responsibility between parents, whānau, teachers, schools and the community. Young people’s wellbeing benefits from having open, positive conversations with their caregivers about sexuality and relationships along with the formal education they get at school. Education about sexually explicit material is a part of holistic relationships and sexuality education. At home and in school, sexually explicit material should be discussed in the context of a broad range of topics like gender, consent, healthy relationships, respect and healthy body image. It is unhelpful to focus solely on sexually explicit material and pornography, or only on extreme harms, without also discussing other influences on relationships and sexuality.

Family Planning advocates for high quality, holistic relationships and sexuality education for all young people.

More information

Office of Film and Literature Classification

Ministry of Education

Brook (UK) – Porn



Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.