Style: July 01, 2019

StarMedia.Digital

STYLE | education 23

NO LONGER A TABOO SUBJECT

It used to be the dreaded sex talk, now experts are urging parents

to talk to our children about porn.

Words Juliet Speedy

Pornography and its impact on children and teenagers is

a large and growing issue. Research both here in New

Zealand and around the world shows teenagers are watching

more porn than ever. It’s affecting the way they think, act and

view relationships. Although porn has been around for many

years, never has it been so accessible. And on top of that,

never has it been more aggressive or degrading.

Australian educator Maree Crabbe is the director of

Reality & Risk. She is an international speaker on the topic

of porn and young people and has recently been to New

Zealand giving talks throughout the country.

Maree first became interested in the subject of teenagers

and porn after working in schools teaching about sexuality.

“Over the years I asked people where they were learning

about sex, and they increasingly spoke about porn. It kept

coming up as a source of education.” She realised more

and more kids were watching porn and using it as their

sole source of sexual education. “So, I started a three-year

project. That was 11 years ago. There’s a lot more work to

be done.”

Maree is one of only a few people in the world educating

people on this topic. Through her subsequent research, she

found pornography certainly is now the most prominent

sex educator for many young people. Most young people

discover porn well before they encounter sex and sometimes

before they have even kissed a partner.

The statistics are blatant and can’t be ignored. More than

90 per cent of boys have seen online porn. More than 60%

of girls have. Nearly 90% of scenes of the most popular porn

include physical aggression.

Maree says there’s some great work being done in New

Zealand, citing particular recent research. The New Zealand

Office of Film and Literature did significant research last year

into young people’s porn exposure in New Zealand. They

surveyed more than 2000 teenagers on how and why they

view online pornography.

The research found porn is a fact of life for young New

Zealanders. They discovered porn influences the way young

people think and act. The research also found porn is

complicated and often troubling for young people and that

teenagers themselves think there should be limits.

Some troubling data came out of the research. One in

four said they first saw porn before the age of 12, but 71% of

those were not seeking out pornography when they first saw

it. Some teens are watching porn regularly and the majority

of that group started watching it regularly by age 14.

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