Thanks to all those who completed our survey over the New Year asking for you views about the age of consent and online ‘pornography’. The final results are just being analysed and will be published later this month. However we thought we’d give you a top line heads up.
We asked our own readers if they’d like to participate but mostly we promoted the survey on Facebook equally aimed at girls and guys between the ages of 15-20 who had a stated interest in ‘sex’. In total we had 418 respondents. Not everybody answered every question, but that’s a pretty good sized sample for a ‘pilot study’.
Our first survey question was ‘Would you mind telling us if you are sexually active?’ Not everybody answered this question but of the 336 who did 66% of the girls were sexually active compared to 56% of the men.
We’re still analysing out the responses based on how old the respondents were. However it is clear that amongst those under 16 – those this question most effects – a much higher proportion want the age lowered. Overall just over 70% of those want it to be lowered to the age of 15 and the remainder want it to be 14.
We were concerned that girls in particular might be being pressured into sex under the age of consent – nobody should ever feel they have to have sex against their will or beliefs. Accordingly we asked those who wanted the age of consent to increase if the reason was that either they, or a friend or family member, had been pressured into a sex act before they were ready.
Out of the entire sample of 418 one person aged 16 and one aged 17 said they had been pressured into sex, and one person of 16 had a friend or family member who had been. At one level that means three people had regrettable experiences that broke the law, which should never have happened. However that number is less than 1% of the total and perhaps we can take encouragement that teaching about consent and respect is really working.
There’s an old saying that ‘all boys are interested in is sex!’ Well at one level that may be true but if our survey is anything to go by girls are certainly more interested in giving their opinions. In fact the girls are three times more interested – in round numbers 75% of respondents were girls.
We told people that the age of sexual consent in the UK is 16 and asked if they thought it should be changed. To a certain extent this question is not quite so relevant to anybody over the age of 16 as, if they are sexually active, it doesn’t really affect them. Then again you could be 16 or 17 with a 15 year old partner in which case it would affect you.
Overall 40% of respondents thought the age of consent should be changed. Of those 77% thought it should be lower, with 23% feeling it should be raised. However this is actually where the guy’s interest in sex comes through as 53% of those who wanted to change it were males, the vast majority of whom thought it should be lower. When it came to the girl’s view around 75% wanted the age lowered whilst 1 in 4 thought it should be raised.
Our survey questions on ‘Online Pornography’ were more complicated and we still have some work to do to get the detailed answers out around who is looking at online pornography and why. However three headline facts spring out.
At DW we find your views fascinating. We also think they’ll surprise quite a lot of people in the media and Government who are still defending old-fashioned views. We’ll be publishing more detail in our next issue.