New Zealand pornography research wins on the world stage

Sept. 21, 2022

Research about young people’s experience and views about pornography by Te Mana Whaakatu – Classification Office won gold at the 2022 global ESOMAR Research Effectiveness Awards (REA), presented in Toronto this morning NZT.

The award is for a three-part research series: NZ Youth and Porn (2018), a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 14 to 17-year-olds by Kantar Public; Breaking Down Porn (2019) an in-house content analysis of the 200 most watched porn videos on Pornhub, and Growing up with Porn (2020) 52 qualitative interviews of 14-17 year-olds by The Collaborative Trust.

“Pornography is a fact of life for our rangatahi and this research has resulted in tangible changes that mean young people now get better education and support around what they might see,” Chief Censor Caroline Flora said.

“The research effectiveness award recognises that these reports didn’t sit on a shelf gathering dust. We now have educational resources and better understanding to empower rangatahi to know the difference between porn and real life.”

The Office and Ministry of Education used the research when developing Ka huri i te kōrero – Changing the conversations around pornography. The resource supports teachers to talk about pornography with young people when delivering relationships and sexuality education.

The Ministry also used the research to update the relationship and sexuality education curriculum guidelines and created an online safer digital behaviours pilot to develop critical thinking in nine to 12-year olds.

Sexual and public health experts, the Light Project, used the research to train and provide resources for services that work with youth and it provided insights for their youth-focussed website

The research informed the internationally acclaimed Keep it Real Online viral porn advert commissioned by the Department of Internal Affairs featuring two actors playing fake porn stars who turn up to an unsuspecting teenage boy’s house.

Te Mana Whakaatu Research Lead Henry Talbot said engaging with young people is what made the research valuable.

“Reports and articles we’d seen often came from an adult perspective and so didn’t necessarily reflect young people’s own experience and views about porn. So we decided to put young people front and centre of the debate – and given the opportunity they didn’t hold back.”

Caroline Flora acknowledged partners across Government and NGOs and the leadership of her predecessor David Shanks.

“This award recognises a strength of Government in New Zealand, when we get new information we can act nimbly and cleverly to make changes that are better for our rangatahi and whānau.”

Last year the research won the Research Association New Zealand (RANZ), Dynata Supreme Award at the 2021 Research Association Effectiveness Awards.

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