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Why are young people in Poland turning to Social media for their sex education?

Last updated on Thursday, 23/02/2023

Sexual education classes are normal in many European countries. Lessons conducted for kids in schools allow them to enter adulthood more informed and to better understand an important part of human life, that of the sexual sphere. In Poland, however, children and teenagers do not have such opportunities, so their main source of knowledge in that regard is... social media.

Social media has many sides. The content that can be found there can be divided into many categories. There are among them, of course, those that do not bring anything good to people's lives. Usually, their only purpose is entertainment, filling in their free time or target advertisements for each user. Often these activities have a very negative impact on their mental health, leading, for example, to aggressive, low self-esteem and other negative behaviours.

However, among the mass of such content on the web, you can also find those that allow for education or personal development. And it depends, to a certain degree, on the person whether they decide to consume such materials or not. It is worth noting, however, that such materials are often delivered in unusual ways. The aim is, of course, not only education but also offer an attractive format, which allows better reception.

More and more websites, accounts and channels are emerging that seek to impart education on this subject. Many of them have started to operate to deepen knowledge or to present interesting facts attractively. However, some of them are currently operating and filling a gap in the educational system existing in a given country. And while this should be a big advantage because after all they provide information to people who cannot obtain it at school, there is a flip side of it. Why do children and young people have to acquire this knowledge online and not, as they should, at school?

One of the countries which is struggling with the lack of sexual education at school is Poland. It has indeed been a heated debate between opposing groups for years. Some people claim that sexual education will cause damage to children. On the other hand, there is another group of people who believes that the lack of education results in people entering adulthood ignoring basic issues concerning their development and the sexual sphere. So this argument somehow overshadows what is at stake: children do not receive enough sexual education. Or worse still, they are not receiving it at all. Instead, there are classes “upbringing to family life”, which are often taught for only a few hours, not to mention the fact that there are not enough of them to be able to provide knowledge. In addition, lessons are often taught by teachers who have only completed additional courses that are simply inadequate or insufficient.

Three basic types of sexual education can be distinguished: A, B, C. The main idea of the first one is to avoid sex until marriage. Type B education is biological education which is taught in biology lessons. Type C is comprehensive sex education, which combines this biological content with issues such as boundary setting, assertiveness, self-care and nurturing partners’ bonds. In Poland, the subject "upbringing to family life" corresponds to type A, that is abstinence-only education/chastity education, which is mainly or exclusively aimed at maintaining sexual abstinence. In addition, classes are typically conducted with a gender split: girls and boys separately. Thus, not only does this education stand at a low level, but it often leads to certain opinions among young people who simply do not want to participate in these classes.

The fight for the right to sexual education at school has led many sexual educators to use social media to pass on their knowledge. After all, this is where young people most often got their information from, as they did not receive it at school nor from their parents at home. Therefore, for children and young people not to use sources that often turned out to be full of false facts, educators created a safe space on their channels and profiles, where they aim consciously to educate.

There are many of such profiles and new ones are created as the need for additional content is perceived. Among them, there are several that have attracted hundreds of thousands of people. Which shows that such profiles are needed. One of the platforms where sexual education appears is Instagram. One of the most popular profiles is kasia_coztymseksem, which currently has almost half a million followers. There is also a lot of interest in sexedpl, observed by 175 thousand people. The #sexedpl foundation is the work of Polish model Anja Rubik, who has also published a book with the same title. Other accounts also appear on TikTok, where users are also increasing the content of this type, as this is the app most used by young people.

So new profiles and those already well established are doing the hard work of educating young people on sexual education to ensure that, not just in Poland, they will receive the basic education they need to enter into adulthood. However, this development also shows a very unpleasant thing. People have to educate themselves, outside the education system, which should provide this education. And despite this unfortunate fact, it also shows the strength of a young society that can fight for something that they deserve.

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Meet the author Anna (Member of the pool of European young journalists – Edition 2022)

I'm a Polish girl who gained her journalistic experience in several places, including writing for magazines and working in radios. I'm up for all possible challenges, adding the right dose of humour to them. Today I am a volunteer. With other young people from all over Europe we write a magazine. I am primarily interested in talking to young people who introduce real changes. An example is the Youth Climate Strike in Poland as a youth movement fighting for a legal change in the government's approach to the climate crisis. I am interested in writing about how European Union programmes give young people a chance and how they changed their lives. I am also interested in the exclusion that many young people face because of their place of residence, gender or sexual orientation. I would like to raise topics that draw attention to the real problems of young people. I am also more and more interested in the culture of the Balkans and Turkey and their inclusion and impact on the European Union.

 

This article reflects the views of the author only. The European Commission cannot be held responsible for it.

 

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