Porn Harms Kids
“We know that adolescents from 15 to 29 are heavy users of pornography in Australia,” Liz Walker stated.
Liz is Director of Health Education at Culture Reframed and Chair at Porn Harms Kids.
“We know that around 84 percent of young men and 16 percent of young women are accessing pornography on a daily or weekly basis.”
Liz Walker said this has huge implications for the way they’re thinking about sex and sexuality.
“Research is indicating links to poor mental health, sexual aggression and violence,” Liz noted, and commented on the increasing prominence of violence against women in Australia and across the world.
‘Australia has some catching up to do’
“We do know it’s shaping sexual behaviours and we’ve also a seen a fourfold increase in child sexual abuse and more generally around sexism and objectification.”
While Liz acknowledged the significance of the ramifications it all depends on the age and stage of the child and the available research.
When it comes to tackling pornography Australia compared with the rest of the world has some catching up to do.
“We’re really lagging but at the same time we’re perhaps one of the most active nations who are doing something and working actively to do more. But the UK is really leading in this space.”
Liz spoke about a porn push-back that took place between 2008 to 2012.
“This was a clampdown on children’s access to pornography through internet filters or clean-feeders as they were known then.”
UK leads porn fight
“That was quashed in that period when lobby groups rose up against us.’
Liz was talking about a report by Alan McKee and funded by the Eros Association, a representative body for the sex industry. It became a political football that was tossed around and eventually quashed.
But not in the UK. The British have made consecutive strides particularly through David Cameron who made a very impactful speech several years ago.
“Now in the UK in the next few months they’ll be implementing age verification measures enforcing porn sites to put a gateway in so that people will have to be age identified by an independent and personal ID.”
But when it comes to Australia wielding a bigger stick to poke porn in the eye Liz Walker said there’s a couple of problems.
Australia needs leadership
One is complacency and the other has to do with leadership.
“Thus far we haven’t had a strong leader stand up and say ‘I’m going to take this forward.’ And really all it will take is that one person like David Cameron to make it their issue,” Liz declared.
Liz mentioned one group doing significant work in this space is the office of the eSafety Commissioner – Julie Inman Grant.
They’ve released a report to the government in December last year that’s yet to be made public.
“There are also a few European countries hoping that age verification will significantly reduce the numbers of children accessing pornography.”
But Liz agreed with the eSafety commissioner’s statement that there is no panacea.
No magic anti-porn bullet
“There’s no magic bullet that’s going to completely block internet pornography but that’s not an excuse for not doing anything.”
“That’s why our Porn Harms Kids report that we launched last year in September looked at five different areas we could really focus on that would reduce children’s access,” Liz said.
Liz Walker admitted she was not comfortable about the first deterrent.
“This grates on me a little bit because this one currently says parents must install a home filters device app which I absolutely agree with. But often when that’s said it’s with the expectation that parents have to fix this problem.”
Liz pointed out it’s a public health crisis that parents alone are not going to solve. So while the home might be porn proof the house next door may not be, nor the bus to school or the playground.
Safe public WiFi
Mobile phones are another issue that is yet to be addressed. Liz wants a child’s chip or all chips pornography blocked at the device level and proof of age, that being over 18, when a phone is issued.
Another porn proofing area is public WiFi. Liz said Porn Harms Kids is working closely with an organisation in the UK that’s activated there.
“That’s basically saying to your big chains or others posting public WiFi – ‘If your WiFi is safe and it does block this content, let’s give you the seal of approval and say that you offer safe public WiFi.’”
ISP level blocks are another. The only internet service provider in Australia that offers a block is Telstra.
“They offer a package for families but again placing the burden on parents but there’s no discussion at a regulatory level as to whether that’s going to be implemented in Australia.
Sex exploitation sites
“Then there are the age verification processes that I’ve mentioned the UK are implementing and we’re strongly advocating for.”
Liz Walker did want people to know that our internet is filtered to a certain degree.
“All internet child sex exploitation sites are blocked in Australia but other prohibited content is still readily available.”
‘Liz said it’s hugely concerning given so many children have access and we’re seeing this fallout in our classrooms and in our society.”
An accredited sexuality educator, speaker, author, I joined Culture Reframed as Director of Health Education in March 2017. Culture Reframed is the global lead in solving the public health crisis of the digital age. A passionate advocate for children and young people, I also chair the Australian organisation Porn Harms Kids: addressing the harms of children and young people accessing online pornography. Well connected internationally, I regularly provide consultancy to government, non-profit, and professional organisations.
Facts from the Porn Harms Kids website – http://www.pornharmskids.org.au
Who we are
Porn Harm Kids is a registered health promotion charity that mobilises researchers, child development experts, youth welfare authorities, the medical profession, non-profits, social and public policy sectors and members of the community including schools and parents, to work toward a comprehensive solution.
The principal activity of Porn Harms Kids as a health promotion charity is to ‘promote the prevention or control’ of disease(s). This term is used in a broad sense and includes mental, emotional and physical health impacts. Prevention of access to pornography is a vital component of reducing the incidence of harms upon children and young people.
Porn and the internet
Evidence of child exposure to pornography
for further information go to: http://www.pornharmskids.org.au