Children’s exposure to porn distorting behaviour and expectations

Children’s exposure to porn distorting behaviour and expectations

CHILDREN in early primary school years are being exposed to pornography at home and developing distorted values and sexuality, according to sexual assault counsellors.

Disturbing behaviour and expectations, mimicking aggression and extreme acts are leading to harm.

Barwon Centre Against Sexual Assault counselling and support services co-ordinator John Blomfield said reporting of incidents had increased dramatically during the past few years, in line with increasing access to the internet.

“Increasingly porn is being normalised, certainly by boys and also sometimes by girls and research is showing that boys then when they try to engage in sexual contact with girlfriends their expectation is that their sexual encounter will mimic what they’ve been viewing via the internet,” Mr Blomfield said.

Barwon Centre Against Sexual Assault counselling coordinator John Blomfield. Picture: Glenn Ferguson

“Sometimes the girls are going along with that but they’re unhappy with it, they’re not comfortable with it but feel that it’s what’s expected because it’s what is normalised.

“So that is problematic.”

Barwon headspace manager Malcolm Scott echoed concerns and said negotiating of consent was becoming increasingly challenging for young girls.

“We’re seeing a range of behaviours not replicated in the real world, young people are seeing various material and thinking that is the way they operate in the real world and finding out very quickly it is inappropriate.”

A special Men’s Health Week forum at Geelong Grammar School today will examine the issue of porn and its impact on the wellbeing of boys and men.

Transformational therapist, founder of the organisation Man Enough and former porn addict Hugh Martin will be major presenter.

Mr Blomfield said the discussion was important.

“We’re receiving reports of adults accessing porn on a regular basis and it becoming seemingly feeling normalised in a family setting, and occasionally referrals where adult males have deliberately exposed children, especially young boys to it,” he said. Warrnambool-based researcher Maree Crabbe believes parents and schools need to be leading conversations about porn.

“If we’re not talking about porn we’re missing the mark, we’re failing to equip young people for relationships and sex that’s respectful and mutual in the 21st Century, because the 21st Century includes pervasive and often aggressive pornography,” she said.

Ms Crabbe, co-ordinator of [email protected]: Pornography, Young People and Sexuality, said porn made up about 30 per cent of internet traffic. Studies had revealed 88 per cent of best-selling porn contained physical aggression including gagging and choking and that 94 per cent of the aggression was directed at women.

“Porn’s influence on sexual understanding, on the sort of sexual scripts that are available to young people raise very serious implications for their capacity to negotiate relationships and sexuality that is mutual, respectful, consenting and pleasurable for both parties,” Ms Crabbe said.

As published in Geelong Advertiser