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Children's Online Access To Porn Is Now A Public Health Crisis

Parents must stop burying their heads in the sand and talk to kids about porn.

12/05/2016 10:46 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Peter Dazeley
"If parents think their kids haven't seen porn, then they are in denial."

Pornography is now the most prominent sex educator for most young people, with widespread use of computers, tablets and smartphones making it 'impossible' for them not to see it, says Australian Childhood Foundation CEO Dr Joe Tucci.

Dr Tucci, a child psychologist and social worker, is urging parents to stop being in denial and have an urgent talk with their kids about internet porn before more damage is done.

"If we want to tackle the domestic violence crisis head-on we need to start from a young age," Dr Tucci told The Huffington Post Australia.

"The porn that is so widely accessible to children online is often deviant and violent. Let's not forget that a great majority of porn shows violence against women. And, to make matters worse, in a great majority of internet porn, the women are shown to enjoy it."

All you need to do is put innocuous words like 'love,' or 'sister' or 'girls' into a search engine and it takes about four results to get to porn.

Research shows 90 per cent of boys under the age of 16 and 60 per cent of girls under 16 have visited a porn site, where 88 per cent of scenes in the most popular online porn show aggressive and violent sex.

"All you need to do is put innocuous words like 'love,' or 'sister' or 'girls' into a search engine and it takes about four results to get to porn," Dr Tucci said.

"A child could be researching Romeo and Juliet for school and just a few results in, there's hard-core porn. The frightening thing is that we risk seeing a new generation of adults with sexually offending behaviour because they view the sex on the internet as 'normal' sex."

"It is not a health crisis in the making, it is already a health crisis that we haven't woken up to."

A Parliamentary inquiry is currently underway, titled 'Harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the Internet.'

Dr Tucci praised the inquiry and said it will put porn in the spotlight. But, he said, parents ultimately have to take responsibility.

"Many adults today think of porn as Playboy magazines," he said.

"Playboy is nothing compared to the sinister themes that children are exposed to now. It's all about abuse and power, about someone always being in a dominant position – generally the male. It's about hurting the woman. If you tried to do what you see online, you'd be injured."

"I've seen filters not work, or kids getting around filters in ten seconds. Parents need to talk to their kids and if they think their kids haven't seen porn, then they are in denial."

It's time we talked
It's time we talked
It's Time To Talk

Source: itstimewetalked

Porn relies on freedom of speech arguments and that you should be able to see whatever you want and you can decide what you see and can't see. But this is completely contradictory when it comes to child protection."

Melbourne based child psychologist Dr Sally-Anne McCormack said porn warps the way people think about sex and interferes with normal romantic relationships.

"It also warps the way people understand how women need to be treated. Parents are wrong to just rely on filters or monitoring screen time as a way to prevent them from seeing porn. It needs to be a discussion about love and intimacy. Then you can refer to porn and say that is not how the world works. It is not the way women expect to be treated," McCormack said.

Porn needs to be part of a child's education, the same talk that we have about drugs and alcohol

"Remind your children that many of the people in porn films are drugged. Many porn films show rape and torture, molestation and assault. Young boys and girls watching porn will have an expectation that that's what all people do."

McCormack advises parents to go back to the 'old rules' of keeping computers in the family living room. Don't let your child take a smartphone into bed.

"Porn needs to be part of a child's education, the same talk that we have about drugs and alcohol," she said.

But McCormack warn the long term effects of watching porn are extremely risky, and said some studies show people who watch a lot of porn are unable to enjoy a normal sexual relationship.

"If you see explicit or deviant porn, you expect your partner to do that and, if they don't, then you won't get that high and it has a dreadful impact on relationships," she said.

Parents don't understand that the porn industry produces volumes and volumes of content – bigger than the Congress library in the US

Utah has become the first US state to declare pornography a public health risk.

While the bill doesn't ban pornography, the move has been described as a way to 'protect our families and our young people.' The bill is calling for greater efforts to prevent porn exposure and addiction.

"Parents don't understand that the porn industry produces volumes and volumes of content – bigger than the Congress library in the US or more volumes than any adult can conceive and it is all free and available," Dr Tucci said.

"The smartphone your child is holding in their hand is the same kind of smartphone that the makers of porn use to make their porn and it's all there just waiting to be viewed."

Dr McCormack's tips for parents. How to talk to your children about porn:

1. Children look for sex education from three sources: parents, friends and the internet. Many kids don't want to talk to parents about sex. But you must allow a discussion to take place, so you can educate your kids about your values.

2. Tell your kids that what they see online about sex is not real life. It is nothing to do with intimate, loving relationships where sex is consensual and there is no aggression or violence.

3. Tell them that people in porn films are actors and some of them would be drugged. What you are seeing is not normal.

4. If friends insist they watch porn, they can refuse to see it.

5. Let them know that once something is seen, it can't be unseen and online porn can lead to a lot of trauma.

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