Kids exposed

Children are routinely exposed to porn. At school, on the school bus, the school camp, the sleepover at a friend’s house. It can happen at home too – and even when they aren’t searching for it, porn will find them. That’s the business model of the global porn industry – to build the next generation of consumers.

Despite a solid body of evidence now on the many ways early porn exposure harms our young people, the Federal Government has refused to implement a trial of an age verification system as one obstacle in the way of children being exposed. A pilot program was recommended by its own eSafety Commissioner – but the Government, which is supposed to care about its most vulnerable citizens – said no.

We don’t accept that. And we know the majority of Australian parents don’t either. We think our Government needs to hear the devastating stories of Australian parents whose children were exposed. Are you one of them? If so, please tell us:

  • How did porn find your child?
  • How was your child affected?
  • What did it mean for you and your family?

We will get your stories to the Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and demand urgent action to protect our kids. 

Add your comment

  • Collective Shout
    commented 2024-02-22 08:56:09 +1100
    Yes. Year 2 – 7 or 8. Luckily we supervised screen use. He was doing Mathletics but kids at school (also exposed) mentioned things to him and he clicked on a link not suspecting to find what he did. We taught our kids not to ask friends if they don’t know what words mean but to rather ask us. He didn’t this time 😭. That was 8 years ago. I’d hate to think what happens now! – Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2024-02-12 14:32:12 +1100
    Year 3, 9 years old. My daughter’s class mate, a boy, hacked into her Google account and went into her Google Drive to delete her school work and in its place posted a very graphic violent pornographic image of a man and woman having sex. She opened didn’t know it had happened when she opened her “work” in front of her two sisters aged 11 and 13. Her teacher, a nun, did not know how to handle the situation properly. She said that the boy was as much her “spiritual child” as my daughter was and she didn’t want to believe he had bad intentions when he sent that disgusting image to her. The reason we know it was him was begin he was still logged onto her account and he had named his iPad after his real name – Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2024-02-08 16:02:30 +1100
    Our eldest Son in Grade 8 was exposed to pornographic material when sitting next to another child on a bus for a school excursion. Our youngest Son was also exposed to pornographic material on his phone even when it is completely locked down with age restrictions and internet filtering software to avoid certain sites and topics being accessed however due to advertising that popped up, he was still able to click on the material and we have no idea how this was possible with the restrictions we had in place. The fact that any child can easily get access to this material is just disgusting and disturbing and it is not healthy in any sense – Name withheld
  • Melinda Rau-Wig
    commented 2024-02-07 05:23:36 +1100
    It was nearly 2 decades ago – but still so alarming how quickly porn infiltrates.

    Darling, innocent elementary school daugher loved Pokemon – she google searched Tracy West.

    Tracey was the main writer of Scholastic’s Pokémon books from 1999-2006.

    Of course, these images were infiltrated and then turned into pornographic filth.

    I was SO angry when I discovered how insidious the internet can be even when filters are on – coz it managed to find it’s disgusting way through to her 7yr old beautiful (but now blemished by unnecessary filth) eyes.

    The blessing was she experienced my appalled reaction, heard me speaking out loud and stridently about this incident and was mortified but determined not to be caught out again and agreed to turn off whatever came up which was not appropriate.

    Praise the Lord!

    However, many children do not have such watchful, alert parents who have the time to monitor every single moment of their young child’s life…..

    And then the cycle of pornographic addiction begins….

    This IS WHY an Age Verification System is SO necessary.
  • Kristi McVee
    commented 2023-11-14 11:31:10 +1100
    Yes, she was exposed at 10yo.

    Sadly and embarrassingly, I was a child abuse detective with over 8 years experience in this space at the time.

    I had conversations with my daughter previous to this incident. She knew what porn was and I thought I had covered all bases with her potential exposure and to keep her safe. Unfortunately, she still managed to see it due to the lack of age verification on pornography sites.

    One day, she came into my bedroom as I was folding washing and said… ‘Mum, I need you to sit down’.

    As a child abuse detective, my brain went to the worse case scenario, that she had been sexually abused. However, thankfully that was not the case, but she was still about to break my heart all the same.

    She said, ‘Mum, I googled Sex and I saw porn and it’s making me feel yucky in my stomach and I can’t stop seeing the man doing that to the lady, why was he like that with her’.

    I was heart-broken that despite me doing MORE than the average parent does for their child when it comes to talking about and protecting their child from exposure to pornography, she was still exposed and it left her upset and confused.

    I am not going to lie, I felt so upset with myself. I should have done more but it turned out that because she had been having her ‘sex’ and puberty education at school at the time, it had left her curious. Hence the google search.

    My job had enabled me to know what early exposure to porn does to children. How it affects the brain, how it can leave children with flashbacks and sometimes causes sleep regression with them seeing the scene as they try to sleep. It can also cause children to be traumatised.

    Depending on the porn, it can also be a reason for children to start engaging in Harmful Sexualised Behaviours, as I had seen in my job. Especially if they are left without help, support and explanations from a safe adult.

    Thankfully, my daughter came to me pretty much straight away. She told me what she had seen (a women giving oral sex, a man having penal/vaginal sex in multiple positions) and that it was only for a few minutes.

    Because she felt safe to tell me, I was able to talk her through and explain what she had seen. I was able to control the narrative and help her young brain understand what she had seen with little repercussions (thankfully).

    But only because we talked it through and she felt safe to do so.

    However, as a result, I went on a journey of trying to better protect her device to ensure she never ‘accidentally’ saw porn. I downloaded and trialled many 3rd party protective/blocking apps but was able to bypass and override all of them.

    In fact, with one of these apps running and apparently blocking inappropriate and dangerous content, I was able to view a video of a man engaging in sexual acts with a goat (to completion) on YouTube.

    The video hadn’t even come up with the ‘sex’ search on the platform and came up under a completely different search name.

    I reported it immediately to the platform but that video still runs rent free in my head and I cringe imagining if a child or young person had seen that.

    Even with all my experience, all my knowledge, all my protective measures and the amazing relationship I have with my daughter, I was still UNABLE to stop her from being exposed to pornography at a TOO young age.

    I worry about all of the little Australian children without help, support and communication and how they must be dealing with it or NOT dealing with the absolutely inappropriate crap floating around on the internet.

    What I know from my experience investigation child sexual abuse is that early exposure to pornography is enabling the over sexualisation of our children and its grooming our children for abuse.

    In fact, in my time as a police officer, I saw groomers use porn as a way to normalise sex with adults and ‘clear’ the way for abuse.

    I am a highly intelligent and motivated parent due to my experience and position in the community but not every parent has that motivation, nor that education and there are children at risk of exposure when it should simply not happen.

    It’s WAY past time for easy measures like ‘age verification’ and if our government doesn’t stop the tsunami of early exposure, than we are going to be seeing another few generations of kids being victims of child sexual abuse.
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-30 19:23:43 +1100
    I believe in freedom of speech but the Western world is crazy and most parents don’t have a clue. When I was a teacher, I would have my fourth grade students research famous African Americans for Black History month to create posters in the computer lab at our school. One year, one of my students found a photoshopped picture of Coretta Scott King having group sex with a bunch of men who were cheering her on. It was a very violent and graphic photo. All chaos broke loose. I had to call all the parents and grandparents and the principal had to talk to the kids. This was over a decade ago and the children I keep in touch with still remember this as shocking. It still enrages me to this day that even less than 20 miles from Silicon Valley, the child protection software did not work.

    Today, I am very careful with my own child who still at age 13 is not continuously exposed to mainstream media as we are blessed to homeschool thus we don’t have a tv nor does she play video games or read mainstream media of any source although she knows what it is. She has no social media but a huge social life!

    She’s a very healthy and friendly 13 year old who is now enrolled in community college but she is not allowed a cell phone until she is 16. I am certain she will be exposed soon but I prepared her and if she does see something she tells me and we discuss it. We can talk about it. It not normalized to her like in so many other kids, adults. I can’t protect her forever, but I have been quite vigilant even telling her grandmother to stop displaying Vogue and Elle magazines, as I felt demeaning, not empowering to woman. Besides billboards in places like LA, London, and Paris, my daughters been fairly protected by me but that’s because I’m a literal watchdog, careful about friends and places she goes, but I can’t do this forever! I do think I kept her from being DESENSITIZED … which to me is the unspoken agenda. Recently we watched the film Avatar and she loved it except the sex scenes which I did not read about in reviews and it was completely unnecessary. I’m an uncommon parent I know, my daughter stands out and is amazing, people comment daily and I think a big part of it is that she is not exposed to what I call everyday pornography… that would include music pornography—Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Cardi B; commercial pornography (the Super-bowl is the worst); internet porno including Tick Tock and YouTube. She’s read every Shakespeare and is a huge fan of classic literature from

    Steinbeck to Jane Austen.

    -Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-30 19:21:18 +1100
    My children were exposed on the school bus by children accessing it regularly. My youngest was in prep at the time. My older girls have been moaned at and spoken about and to in disgusting ways. Schools are turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children and imo are complicit in the grooming of our kids by the porn industry. Any child exposed to graphic porn should be followed up. As parents we are not supported by the school system to keep our children safe. They hand them devices/laptops and send them home with no help to lock them down to protect them and parents are so time poor it’s a constant battle.

    - Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-30 19:20:29 +1100
    Yes and quite young. First it was the youtube videos that were adaptation of favourite video games. My sons would go to watch gaming videos and instead the illustrations of game charaters had been turned into animated porn. Very early on my son had continuous videos on animations turning boys into girls. These videos were highly sexualised and involved forced feminisation and sexual abuse because they were now girls. So many deeply disturbing messages about women and girls. Later he was playing Roblox and followed an advertised website name E621. He told me it was all over Roblox on banners at events and parties and on avatars tshirts. It was going on for a few years and I didn’t have any idea. He simply clicked the yes I’m over 18 and was in. I only found out after I found some lovely pictures in the printer. I think there was an issue and it was stalled. When i went to turn it back on another day I got a surprise. Reams of these photos he had hidden in his room. All animal, Furry animations but incredibly graphic. I had no idea how sinister furry stuff is but now I do and I encourage others to really investigate this. I am sure he has seen real life porn but it was the animal drawings he was involved with. Maybe because he knew he’d get in trouble for real porn images. I have no idea what he looks at now. I tried some child guard software and he’s managed to get it off and disable it because “it slows down the game”. What i find most disturbing is his awareness of porn and prostitution at the early age of 13 and to see how this translates into sexist comments. He once said girls are less likely to be poor because they can always go on only fans. My heart sank.

    - Name withhheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-30 19:16:03 +1100
    My son is now 32 years old. At the age of about 8, he accidentally glimpsed some porn on the home computer. It just came up as he logged in. Back in those days we had no ‘net nanny’. He was very shocked and quite devastated. It would have been better if the government was able to put extra safety steps in place so children don’t find themselves in these situations.

    - Name withheld
  • Pamela Bedford
    commented 2023-10-24 19:04:34 +1100
    My former partner was a school bus driver from Frederick Irwin Anglican school Mandurah (private school) to Waroona which is 50 mins south of Mandurah. Bus drop off was morning and afternoon with about 60 odd students ranging from primary to high school students. Quite regularly we would find students on their laptops (its a long trip for the kids) or sharing photos with other students. Unfortunately many of these were pornographic or porn sites. I was personally appalled, as most of the kids had the internet on their laptops.

    Also just the other day I caught a nephew with his mate in the spare room watching pornography on their phones. They are 9 yrs old. We managed to have a chat about same but it seems it’s quite common within the primary schools. My concern is for the image of young girls and future relationships. After having a beauty salon for 10yrs 8 can tell you about the ongoing problems with women and girls regarding body image…..

    I certainly think an age limit should be put on pornography.

    Thank you
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-23 17:11:22 +1100
    As a therapist I had a 14 year old boy come to me who had a child porn addiction. He had accessed it through a gaming site at the age of 11, and of course had no moral teaching on watching this. He discovered it was illegal, and was thrown into a terrible state of anxiety believing he should be in jail. It took very many weeks to help him recover. We did this by visualising and apologising to the children he had been part of the exploitation of. He felt old and worn out by all he had been through.

    - Name withheld
  • Lyn Kennedy
    followed this page 2023-10-23 16:50:31 +1100
  • Sarah H
    commented 2023-10-16 21:56:21 +1100
    My niece has been exposed to porn by classmates in primary school via mobile phones that children snuck into class. She was left feeling gross and uncomfortable and wishes she could unsee what she never wanted to look at.
  • Simone Bennett
    commented 2023-10-16 19:50:35 +1100
    My 9 yr old daughter was looking at animal pictures on my laptop.

    One picture was of a kitten

    When she clicked on the picture to enlarge it porn came up.

    Thankfully i was sitting next to her.

    She practically threw the laptop at me in horror.

    How disgusting that there are adults on the web deliberately linking porn to animal pictures to target children
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-16 16:23:13 +1100
    Proposal for new Government policy Mandate education of primary school students parents, about cyber safety including the hazards and harm that non-management of children online can cause. *The following is an observation from my parenting experience over the last several/plus years. I’m the primary caregiver of my eight and ten years old. The mobile devices we all carry provide instant access to the worlds information (good & bad), and primary school students want to be part of the action. I believe the unsupervised use, and in some circumstances, “unregulated use of Technology” by primary school students, jeopardises the well-being of all young children. Primarily because, as a whole, children’s guardians can’t keep the adult part of the internet away from them, mostly because of a lack-of-education on the parent’s side of the dangers involved. This lack of education is directly due to a mismanaged governing policy in this area. I believe primary school students cannot self-regulate their online safety because they are not mature enough, and the shock value to their peers is generally important to them. Let me explain, Recently I experienced this first-hand. On the 17th of October (two weeks ago roughly), I was central to a horrifying incident at [name withheld] Community Centre. I entered the community centre at 4.30pm to pick up my two children (8 and 10 years old) from basketball training. My daughter is a member of the under 12 girls [name withheld] team and her basketball practice was finishing. As I walked into the community centre foyer, I was confronted with the Community Centre iPad attached to the top of a short post angled towards the entrance, with a pornhub web page open playing hardcore video pornography. I was TOTALLY GOBSMACKED to say the least! I immediately dealt with the situation, trying to protect any kids in the foyer from seeing the iPad. With the help of [name withheld] from the [name withheld] basketball club we found who was responsible. A recently turned 12-year-old boy was found to be the person who searched for the porn hub website page and proceeded to show his basketball team in the foyer of the Community Centre/Daycare Centre. The iPad was left playing video pornography unattended when I found it. It was heartbreaking to see a couple of young kids walking around while this was playing. I believe all parents need to learn the dangers involved. A lack of knowledge is mainly why, a large portion of people from our society have gradually been desensitised to the risks posed by their kids accessing-social-media and adult-content. Given the current situation, the likelihood is high that children will be exposed to pornography in our society before finishing primary school. Our government, the ‘e-safety commissioner’ advises parents talk to their children about pornography, as published on the e-safety commissioner government website. A possible remedy to this, is to mandate education for parents of primary school aged students about the hazards and harm, non-management of young kids online can cause. The image here is from the e-safety government website. A cultural shift (with a matter of urgency) is badly needed among the parents of primary school students, because if we don’t push back against this problem as a society, circumstances like this will eventually become increasingly regular. Over the last two weeks I have spoken at length to many parents of primary school students about this topic (not this incident), and listened to stories where this has been highlighted to me as an ongoing issue. Through this, I’ve gained the full support of parents ‘for change’ I’ve spoken with. Thanks for reading.

    - Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-16 15:51:26 +1100
    Yes – 11 years old our daughter googled ‘what shall I get my father for Father’s Day?’. She was drawn into a vortex of porn and showed her 9 year old sister. We found out after three months of this.

    - Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-16 15:16:06 +1100
    My 11 year old son was shown porn on a 3 night school excursion by another student. Student played videos to the other kids in his room and when some of them walked away he then played the videos loudly, while the boys were trying to sleep. When reported to the school, they did nothing and it caused a great deal of stress and huge issues with friendship groups /bullying. My 8 year old son was dared by his friends to search “naked girl” on his iPad and then scroll to the bottom of the page. I found his search history and when I talked to him about it, he was extremely upset about it and wished he hadn’t seen any of it. It is terrifying that 8 year olds are being exposed to this.

    - Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-16 15:10:59 +1100
    Hello! This isn’t my child, it’s actually my little brother, but I feel the story is still relevant and worth sharing. Two years or so ago, I was a huge fan of anime. My parents found anime p*rn in the browsing history and immediately turned to me. I was confused and shocked. When they showed me the images, I actually started crying! Needless to say, it wasn’t me who had been searching up that p*rn. It was my 9 year old little brother. He had seen my anime, thought it was pretty cool, had searched it up online and accidentally stumbled upon p*rn (the anime in question was about superheroes and all the characters were minors, by the way – it wasn’t an adult cartoon). My parents had a serious talk with him and I believe he stopped looking at that kind of stuff, but he got his own phone when he was 10 (in grade 5) so I don’t know for sure whether he has continued to browse p*rn. What I do know is that he has treated women differently since. He has objectified and sexualised me, along with my older sister, and other popular women in the media (celebrities and whatnot). I’m not sure if this is all a result of p*rn, I’m sure it’s also a result of the general content he consumes on the internet, but still, I think it played a part in the process. I still love my brother very much, but he was far too young to be exposed to that.

    - Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-16 15:07:57 +1100
    My son had a stressed out solo mumma, me. His dad died a long time ago, I missed a few key safety checks, like access to the internet. One night he came into my room very distressed. He was not even a teenager yet. He was using an old phone of mine and somehow clicked on a pop up which lead to what had the potential to completely destroy his innocence and a wonderful future healthy sex life with a permanent spouse. For the next two or three weeks he repeatedly came into my room with the confessions of guilt, fear, shame, anguish as he told me bits and pieces of what he had been exposed to. It was absolutely heart wrenching. We cried, we prayed, I reassured him he wasn’t going to hell, when he asked me. As a mother I felt like I had neglected him and now enabled a safe home for him. It was my responsibility and I had missed one of the most crucial aspects of the values I hold dear in life and in parenting. I was angry that it was so very easy for a young person to access such adult, and such degrading information of women. I am eternally grateful for the brave courageous young man I am raising and for his willingness to offload all of the guilt, shame, fear, confusion, condemnation and uncertainty porn attempted to load him up with. I vowed to be a better mother and to fight the insidious nature of porn.

    - Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-16 15:03:24 +1100
    Yes, both my children have been exposed to porn at a young age. They were searching for naked images and porn sites came through as they were using a laptop that hadn’t had safe search enabled. It is highly likely that they have been exposed or searched actively at their other home where there are older siblings, as well as through peers talking about things at school. It’s been an ongoing conversation, and will continue to be as we unpack how this has affected them and their understanding of safe and healthy relationships. I personally felt ill knowing that they had seen highly inappropriate and explicit pornography. While we have implemented additional controls and restrictions, it has really highlighted children’s accessibility in our digital age and also how issues with consent and denigration of women can become so prevalent for young men.

    - Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-16 15:01:55 +1100
    My adult teen was working at KFC and one of the supervisors pulled him aside to show him porn on his shift. My son told me this years after the fact. This made me so angry and outraged. There was no protection from a sexual predator in his workplace. So this means that all the teens and young adults working in any industry can be secretly exposed to a unethical supervisor’s porn habit. Where’s the accountability from the workplace management.

    -Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-16 14:59:13 +1100
    My son, now an adult was amongst the first kids who got given a laptop in Year 9. We could not say no as it was for their school work. Up until then he had not seen porn but told us that kids were fairly constantly viewing pornographic material via usb with the school maintaining kids couldn’t access via school intranet. This caused him no end of problems from then on, impacting his studies and removing our power as parents to protect or prevent unhealthy sexual material from impacting him. When the government makes decisions like these that remove parental capacity to choose for their families without thinking about the consequences we are left floundering and at a loss on how to help our kids navigate the tech world they have found themselves immersed in.

    - Name withheld
  • Collective Shout
    commented 2023-10-16 14:30:01 +1100
    My granddaughter at the age of two, came back into her mother’s care after a weekend with her father. She was clearly devastated from the moment we saw her, screaming and clinging to her mother. At the supper table, she said in front of her mother, myself, and my husband.

    “I saw a guy jacking off on the phone.”

    She repeated the exact same sentence three times.

    She woke up 7 or 8 times that night in a state of distress. This distress continued for months. Despite this, the child protection services immediately closed the case and offered my grandchild no protection.

    My daughter fought for two years for her daughter to see doctors and try to resolve why a two year old would say this.

    It has devastated our family. My husband and I moved to be with our grandchildren to help our granddaughter to heal. We live in Canada and have had almost no support from the systems in place whose sole purpose is to protect children.

    - Name withheld
  • Amy Ivey
    commented 2023-10-15 14:41:41 +1100
    Single mother of 2, daughter 15, son 18. We were just discussing this yesterday actually. My daughter said she first saw porn at 8 years old shown to her by her 12 year old male cousin. My son said he showed him anime porn at around the same time.

    His neighbours also showed him porn at the same age.

    In year 6 my daughter reported boys discussing openly their porn watching habits and sexual fantasies about their teacher.

    I was very proactive in discussing pornography with my kids at a young age – I started with my son at age 9 and kept up a dialogue with both children in the following years.

    When my son was 9 the average age of kids being exposed to porn was 11. I think it’s now 8.

    He chose not to watch porn after discussing how it hijacks healthy developing sexuality. He was considered abnormal by his high school peers who asked him incredulously what he masturbated to. He replied ‘my big brain’. He wears his Porn Kills Love tshirt at college and posted it his instagram account.

    I purchased a program on sexuality by an Australian sexologist that is very comprehensive and set it up on our family laptop for any questions they might have if they can’t ask me.

    I felt that since I could not control what my children were exposed to in my absence, I instead tried to discuss and influence the way they perceived things. It has worked out very well for us but I am aghast at how many parents are not having these conversations.

    How many kids are learning about sex through porn.

    Since that is the case we definitely need a more responsible approach to age verification. It is a huge problem in our schools. Kids are showing these things to other kids on the bus.

    Thankyou for the work you do ♥️ Sincerely, Amy Ivey
  • Donna Allen
    commented 2023-10-15 14:41:11 +1100
    How did porn find your child?

    More than one of my children was exposed to pornography at a young age- and not with permission/consent of myself or themself.

    The first instance is my son in Grade 5, whose friend with an iPod showed him immoral female porn of adult women and introduced him to ideas and concepts which he was too young to handle, control and ask about. He also showed him how to access it himself. He was wrongly given the impression that porn was common and that relationships aren’t part of sex. Some of these videos were violent and all were degrading. He was only in Year 5.

    How was your child affected?

    He became unable to view women and girls are friends. He couldn’t hug his mother. He hid his actions in shame. He made degrading, sexual and inappropriate comments and actions towards other children as he matured which did not value or respect them. The same happens to my daughter in Year 4 through her iPod- targeted ads from music.

    They both independently developed a sexual addiction. Both were deeply unhappy. Both struggled with self worth and relationships. Both learnt to lie and remove -isolate themselves from others. They couldn’t reconcile normal human relationships with what they had seen and began to mistrust adults.

    What did it mean for you and your family?

    It meant we had to spend a lot of time and money helping my son overcome his addiction and lead a normal life. His behaviour affected his younger brother too. We had to help him sort through failed relationships.

    My daughter was abused online and taken Advantage of.

    She ran away from home age 16 and makes no contact with her family. We lost a daughter! This was after years of struggling with self esteem and social inadequacy. It stems back to what she experienced daily online- despite our safe guards!

    Our family is broken and we feel rejected as parents. Her education and future life is affected. We can no longer guide her and only hope she will be ok.
  • Coralie Alison
    published this page in Campaigns 2023-10-10 13:14:04 +1100