Education, the best defense against online exposure

Auther: Miss Nicole Sacre - Year 10 Coordinator

It’s time we talked. Sex Ed through Pornography

Never before in human history have we had the kind of material that is available nor the volume. Overwhelming statistics show that students are learning about sex through pornography and not from the adults in their lives. Dr Michael Carr-Gregg (School TV) highlights that parents feel ill equipped to have conversations around pornography with their kids and states that what kids are seeing distorts their idea of sexuality and intimacy.


In this digital age, online pornography is almost impossible to avoid.  A 2006 study showed that more than 90% of boys and 60% of girls have viewed pornography online (Fleming, Greentree, Cocotti-Muller, Elias & Morrison, 2006) and this was before the prevalence of smart phones and tablets. The world’s biggest pornography site has 92 million visitors each day and one particular site was the 23rd most popular website in the world (ahead of Netflix and Ebay).

Young people and their views on pornography are highly gendered.  Young men are more likely to view pornography in a positive manner, whereas women are more likely to describe pornography as unwelcome, distasteful and degrading.  Many young women report that they feel uncomfortable when viewing it and express concern that it creates demands and often feel pressured to perform what young men expect.

There have been documented links between the aggression and degradation in pornography to violence against women with a 2010 study showing that 95% of aggression was met with a neutral or positive response (Bridges et al, 2010). Overwhelmingly, the message that young people are getting is that:

·         These experiences will be unpleasant for your partner but that is to be expected and is acceptable

·         Consent can be negotiated

 A genuine concern is that the voice of pornography is educating our young people about sex and this drowns out the more reasonable voices in their lives.  Just as we can acquire a taste for a particular food or drink, repeated exposure has shown that it is possible to develop sexual tastes and preferences from the material viewed.

Teenagers response to their sexual education is that it is too little, too late and too biological.  So, what can we do about pornography?

1.       Limit young people’s exposure and access to pornography.  Whilst this is incredibly difficult, it is about managing technology, through supervised access, time restrictions and through the use of filters

2.       Equip and encourage young people to critique what they see. The ability to read imagery and develop critical media literacy is key

3.       Help young people develop skills required to resist pornography’s influence. How to our kids respond to peer pressure or the pressure they receive from their partner to replicate what is being viewed.

4.       Finding creative and compelling ways to explore the issues and have the conversations as a society.

 A recommendation from the Children’s Commissioner for England’s Report (2013), states that the curriculum content should cover ‘access and exposure to pornography, and sexual practices that are relevant to young people’s lives and experiences, as a means of building young people’s resilience.

Through Year Level sessions students will be able to explore the issues surrounding pornography through age appropriate activities.  However, you at home are able to have the conversation surrounding pornography and can learn more information by viewing “Online Pornography” on School TV by visiting or by reading the information and tips provided on



 Bridges, A, Wosnitzer, R, Scharrer, E, Sun, C & Liberman, R 2010, ‘Aggression and Sexual Behaviour in Best-Selling Pornography Videos: A constent Analysis Update’, Violence against women, 16(10), pp. 1065-1085.

 MJ Fleming, S Greentree, D Cocotti-Muller, K A Elias & S Morrison, ‘Safety in cyberspace: Adolescents’ safety and exposure online’, Youth and Society, vol. 38, no. 2, 2006, pp. 135–54.