Sydney: NSW Advocate for Children and Young People Andrew Johnson appeared before a Parliamentary Joint Committee Inquiry into the sexualisation of children and young people today.
Advocate Andrew Johnson’s submission to the NSW Parliamentary Joint Committee Inquiry looks at the role of pornography in the sexualisation of children and young people.
“We know pornography can interfere with young people’s healthy development, which is why we are so pleased that the Parliamentary Joint Committee for Children and Young People initiated this inquiry,” said Mr Johnson. “We also know that education can improve the safety and wellbeing of young people.”
The submission is based on a comprehensive literature review commissioned by the Advocate.
“Technology has dramatically changed the pornography landscape for young people, making it much easier for them to access. Young people are getting greater exposure to pornography because they are increasingly able to download it or stream it through their computer and hand-held devices.” Mr Johnson said.
“Harms to young people from early access to pornography include body image issues, mental health problems, gender issues and impacts on developing future healthy relationships.
“It’s vital that we have current and relevant data to inform policy and programs, especially when it comes to the impact pornography has on children and young people.
“There are many good programs providing age appropriate education for children and young people, as well as resources for parents. The important thing is to make sure everyone has easy access to the information they need to support children and young people’s physical and mental health,” Mr Johnson said.
The Advocate for Children and Young People’s recommendations include:
- Continued research to fill the gap in Australian knowledge about young people’s attitudes and responses to sexualised media, including pornography
- Promotion of credible and evidence based websites and materials to educate and assist children and young people and parents
- Strengthening the effectiveness and implementation of educational materials and programs aimed at equipping children and young people with the skills and knowledge to develop healthy attitudes to sexuality, including pornography and sexting
- Collaborating with the National eSafety Commissioner to explore opportunities to reduce children and young people’s exposure to online pornography.
Key findings of the Burnet Institute research include survey results showing:
- 100% of males and 81% of females aged 15-29 years have been exposed to pornography
- On average, males first see pornography at 13 years, and females at 16 years
- Young people aged 15-29 years most commonly view pornography by streaming or downloading on a computer (47%) or viewing on a phone (33%)
- On average young Australians are first exposed to pornography 2-3 years before their first sexual encounter.
* Literature review undertaken by the Burnet Institute, an independent, not-for-profit organisation that links medical research with public health action