Exposing kids to porn makes healthy respect based relationships impossible Collective Shout tells Senate inquiry

‘The proliferation and globalisation of hypersexualised imagery and pornographic themes has led to destructive ideas about sex and makes healthy sexual exploration almost impossible…the weight of evidence about the trends in online consumption of pornography by children and young people, and the harms associated with online consumption of pornography, point to the urgent need to find effective means to limit or reduce children’s access’

Collective Shout has contributed submissions to a number of recent inquiries, including the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications ‘Harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the Internet’Below is an extract from our submission on exposure to children of online pornography. After that you can read an extract from our submission to the Parliament of NSW Committee on Children and Young People Inquiry into sexualisation of children and young people.

Impact of online consumption of pornography by children on the development of healthy and respectful relationships

Michael Flood in 2009 described the likely effects of children and young people’s exposure to pornography based on a careful analysis of the available evidence as follows:

• children and young people may be disturbed (sick, shocked, embarrassed, repulsed, upset) by unwanted to exposure to Internet pornography;

• girls are more likely than boys to be troubled by sexually explicit images; boys are more likely to report sexual excitement;

• children and young people exposed to pornography that features non-mainstream sexual practices (such as male-female anal intercourse) are more likely to engage in such practices;

• children and young people who view pornography are more likely to have liberal attitudes towards, and to engage in, sex without love, one night stands, same-sex sex, multiple sex partners, more frequent sex, and earlier sexual involvement;

• pornography, much of which offers a decontextualised portrayal of sexual behaviour, a relentless focus on female bodies, and sexist and callous depictions of women contributes to sexually objectifying understandings of and behaviours towards girls and women by boys and young men;

• exposure to pornography is related to male sexual aggression against women. This association is strongest for violent pornography and still reliable for nonviolent pornography, particularly by frequent users. For example, “in a study of Canadian teenagers with an average age of 14, there was a correlation between boys’ frequent consumption of pornography and their agreement with the idea that it is acceptable to hold a girl down and force her to have sex”;

• exposure of girls and young women to pornography may make them more vulnerable to submitting to sexist and sexually objectifying attitudes, including sexual violence; and

• partners of adult pornography users report decreased sexual intimacy, lowered esteem and demands that they participate in activities they find objectionable, so children and young people’s exposure to pornography is making them less able to sustain genuine intimate relationships based on mutual respect.

The 2012 systematic literature review by Owens and colleagues, The Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents: A Review of the Research, found that adolescent consumption of Internet pornography was linked to attitudinal changes such as:

• more permissive sexual attitudes towards casual sex, including viewing sex as “primarily physical and casual rather than affectionate and relational”; and

• acceptance of male dominance and female submission as the primary sexual paradigm, with women viewed as “sexual playthings eager to fulfill male sexual desires”.

The review also founds that frequency of consumption of Internet pornography was linked to behaviour such as:

• first oral sex at a younger age;

• first sexual intercourse at a younger age; and

• casual sex, group sex, male-female anal intercourse.

Furthermore, “adolescents who are intentionally exposed to violent sexually explicit material were six times more likely to be sexually aggressive than those who were not exposed”.

In a very recent meta-analysis examining the link between pornography consumption and sexual violence, Wright and colleagues found that:

• consumption of pornography was associated with an increased likelihood of committing actual acts of sexual aggression;

• this association held for both adolescents and adults;

• the association held for both violent pornography and nonviolent pornography, although the link with violent pornography was stronger (but nonsignificant): “it appears most likely that (a) the level of violence, degradation, and objectification matters, but (b) the pornography consumed by the average individual contains enough of these elements that it is associated with an elevated likelihood of sexual aggression.;

• there is an even stronger link for verbal sexual aggression than for physical sexual aggression; and

• the link between pornography consumption and sexually aggressive behaviour is not explained by “sexually aggressive individuals watching content that conforms to their already established aggressive sexual scripts” and that “pornography consumption predicted boys’ later sexual aggression even after controlling for their earlier sexual aggression”

The authors conclude:

As with all behavior, sexual aggression is caused by a confluence of factors and many pornography consumers are not sexually aggressive. However, the accumulated data leave little doubt that, on the average, individuals who consume pornography more frequently are more likely to hold attitudes conducive to sexual aggression and engage in actual acts of sexual aggression than individuals who do not consume pornography or who consume pornography less frequently.

Sun et al in their 2013 paper “Pornography and the male sexual script” describe the nature of the majority of pornography currently available:

Nevertheless, with online mainstream pornography over­whelmingly centered on acts of violence and degradation toward women, the sexual behaviors exemplified in pornography skew away from intimacy and tenderness and typify patriarchal constructions of masculinity and femininity. Content analysis of best-selling pornographic videos, for example, reveals that over 88% of scenes involve acts of physical aggression, with 70% of the aggressive acts being perpetrated by men, and 87% of the acts being committed against women. Such acts stand in sharp relief against more intimate acts, which were relatively infrequent, such as issuing verbal compliments, embracing, kissing, and laughing.—

In addition to the findings on first age of exposure and frequency of use reported above, this survey of U.S. heterosexual male college students found that men who view pornography more frequently are:

• more likely to rely on pornography to become and remain sexually excited (reporting masturbation with pornography as more exciting than sex with a partner; and intentionally thinking about images from pornography during sex with a partner);

• more likely to integrate pornography into dyadic sexual encounters (viewing pornography with a sex partner or acting out activities or positions seen in pornography); and

• less likely to enjoy intimate behaviours such as cuddling, kissing and caressing with a partner.

The Australian Psychological Society reports adolescent boys are estimated to be responsible for about a fifth of rapes of adult women and between a third and a half of all reported sexual assaults of children. Offences by school-aged children have quadrupled in Australia in only four years according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Australian Medical Association says there is a strong relationship between exposure to sexually explicit material and sexual behaviour that predisposes young people to adverse sexual and mental health outcomes.

The proliferation and globalisation of hypersexualised imagery and pornographic themes has led to destructive ideas about sex and makes healthy sexual exploration almost impossible.

Taken together, the weight of evidence about the trends in online consumption of pornography by children and young people, and the harms associated with online consumption of pornography, point to the urgent need to find effective means to limit or reduce children’s access to online pornography.

To fail to take action would be to betray a whole generation of boys and girls by leaving their formation in sex and relationships largely in the hands of a pornography industry and culture that teaches boys and young men to view women as sex objects, to be used in a degrading and even violent way and teaches girls and young women to view their worth as conditioned upon their valuation by porn saturated boys and men as fit for the purpose of an objectified sex instrument.

You can read the full submission here.

Collective Shout calls for child-rights based approach to address harms of hypersexualised culture

Submission to the Parliament of NSW Committee on Children and Young People Inquiry into sexualisation of children and young people

submissioncollectiveshoutNicole Jameson presented on behalf of Collective Shout to the NSW  Committee Inquiry into sexualisation of children and young people


Submission summary

Children and young people are growing up in a high-tech culture steeped in relentlessly sexualised, sexualising and sexist messaging from media, advertising and popular culture which conditions them from a young age to view themselves and others in terms of their appearance and sexual currency. While women and girls are primarily the subjects of hyper-sexualised media representation, these messages also play a crucial part in socialising men and boys to see the sexual objectification of women and girls as normal.

Many adults are overwhelmed by the task of protecting and equipping children as they navigate the contemporary media and social landscape. The current legislative and regulatory environment is piecemeal, confusing for the community to navigate, and tends to serve the commercial advantage of corporate and marketing interests to the detriment of the community – children and young people in particular. Despite a number of state and federal inquiries demonstrating the need for systemic reform, media classification and self-regulatory schemes have failed to halt or even slow the proliferation of imagery and messaging through electronic, print and social media and marketing that demeans women, reduces them to sexual objects, fosters a culture which condones sexual violence, and pressures young girls to act in prematurely sexual ways.

Collective Shout is critical of the self-regulatory system currently favoured in media and advertising, which allows free rein to marketers while placing the burden of action on those most at risk of exploitation and harm. In particular, we are concerned about the lack of effective incentive or enforcement to deter those who are making a profit from the sexualisation of children and young people. Media and advertising interests have had ample opportunity to hear and act on community concerns but have instead have chosen to protect their vested interests. It is time for government to step in and act on behalf of children and young people.

Recommendations from Collective Shout in this submission include:

Recognition of the harms of sexualisation as a public health crisis requiring swift and decisive action on behalf of children and young people.

The restructuring of the current regulatory environment to bring the regulation of all media and marketing together under one encompassing independent federal regulator, including a division with the primary responsibility of protecting the interests of children and young people, addressing both the direct and indirect sexualisation of children in all media modes from a child-rights basis.

Equipping parents and carers with the appropriate media literacy tool and institutional supports, to raise children who have the ability to be critical consumers and creators of media.

The evaluation and implementation of appropriate school-based education programs to educate children and young people about the harms of sexualisation, and funding to help schools secure these resources.

For a child-rights based approach to addressing the harms of media hypersexualisation, including respect for the voices and points of view of children and young people.

That the prevalence of sexualised images of women in our society be recognised as a significant underlying contributor to violence against women and girls.

The commissioning of comprehensive research to establish the extent of the exposure of children and young people in NSW to sexualising media content. However, this research should not preclude swift government action on the basis of the evidence that already exists.

Read the full submission here.

As originally published on melindatankardreist.com

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