Tuesday 13 July 2010

Caught in the net?

A recent report published by youth charity Get Connected found that 86% of under 25 year olds questioned had used the internet to search for help with a personal problem. Worryingly, more than half of these young people (53%) said that the information they found actually made them more anxious about their problem than they were before.

If you Google abortion you can see why this might be the case for a young woman looking for information about an unplanned pregnancy. As well as reliable information from sexual health agencies such as Brook, bpas, and Marie Stopes, there is an awful lot of misinformation out there. We often hear young people in our Talk About Choice sessions tell us about something they’ve read or watched online which feeds into the kind of myths we feature on this blog. Just searching using the term abortion I’ve found plenty of websites which proffer false information and graphic images related to abortion. Others present a seemingly non-judgmental, open environment for discussion of pregnancy options which, upon closer inspection, is unraveled to reveal an anti-abortion agenda, but perhaps too late for a vulnerable young woman genuinely unsure about her pregnancy.

Here at EFC we believe in presenting young people with the facts about abortion, in an unbiased manner. Only 18% of the young people questioned by Get Connected said that they would double check any information they found online with another source like a friend or parent. I worry that without proper access to genuine unbiased information about all their pregnancy options young people are at risk of reading things on the internet which simply aren’t true, or are shaped by a particular anti-abortion agenda. This isn’t to say that young people can’t be critical about what they read, but it means that we as educators, parents and professionals need to make sure we do know where to signpost for good, reliable information on abortion.

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