Is watching pornography harmless for children or a cause for concern?
Airdate: 
Tuesday, May 8, 2012 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS

Students – even those in primary school – are using smartphones and laptops to show pornographic material to their friends.

And the range of material they’re looking at is vast: everything from explicit sex to material involving fetishes and violence.

This week Insight looks at how children are accessing porn, what they’re looking at, whether it’s influencing their sexual behaviour and where the responsibility should lie when it comes to educating children about sex and pornography.

Winner of the UN Media Peace Award: 'Increasing Awareness and Understanding of Children’s Rights and Issues'

Producer: Fanou Filali

Associate Producer: Mawunyo Gbogbo

Web Extra

Kids and porn: What you were saying

The discussion on children accessing porn generated a lot of buzz over the internet. Have a look at some of the online reactions to 'Generation XXX', as well as related articles and videos about the topic.

See how one educator is teaching children about pornography in sex education classes.

Assistant Principal at Currans Hill Public School, Rene Ryan teaches porn awareness classes to children. Since kids are more exposed to porn than ever before and at younger ages, she says it is better to equip them with the right information.

Let's Talk About Sex

Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) and Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS (YEAH) is conducting an online survey to find out how young people are accessing sexual health information - whether from schools, friends, community groups, porn, or the Internet. If you're interested in taking part, the survey is here.

What do you think of the episode? Let us know below.

Transcript

JENNY BROCKIE: Hi, I'm Jenny Brockie, welcome everybody, good to have you all here. Yovan, I want to start with you, how old were you when you first came across pornography?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: To be honest I can't remember the specific first time but I remember it being towards the end of primary school and it was a pop up on the internet, so pop up advertising and something came up, I don't remember.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you don't remember what you saw?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: No, just some kind of ad.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay and what happened after that? I mean when did you first look at pornography as a kid?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: Probably sometime in early high school, maybe, year 7, year 8.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how did you come across it?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: The internet as well.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you went looking for it or friends showed it to you, how did you find it?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: I guess it went looking for me.

JENNY BROCKIE: It went looking for you, okay.

YOVAN GRBOVIC: I guess it's hard to avoid it. With my generation, you know, the internet is a big part of our lives. I mean at that age I was going home every day and there was definitely some kind of computer time every day on the internet spent alone or not under direct supervision. So during that time I'm sure that again, I can't remember the specific first time but"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: Is this just a convenient lapse of memory you're having at the moment Yovan?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: No, no, I honestly don't remember, I remember nothing.

JENNY BROCKIE: You remember nothing. What did you make of it? Do you remember what you made of what you saw, what you thought at that age?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: I was curious, I was intriguing to me. I never really seen what it looks like before so I guess having that visual sort of, visual perception of it as well was quite"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: And were there shocking things that you saw or was it explicit sex, just explicit sex, or was it something more shocking than that?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: I don't remember anything particularly shocking, there's no trauma from that moment so"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Nova, what about you, you're 14 now? How old were you when you first came across porn?

NOVA STEWARDSON: I was about 11.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how did you come across it?

NOVA STEWARDSON: Well, I was curious, I think it just sort of came up on the internet when I was younger and it was sort of passed around the school grounds as well. Like a lot of people were just talking about it in primary school.

JENNY BROCKIE: And passing it around on their phones?

NOVA STEWARDSON: Yeah, showing other people and, yeah, it was just, I don't know, it just became something like we just got interested and intrigued about it because it was just showed around so much.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you remember your reaction at that age? Do you remember how you reacted to it when you saw it, how you felt about it?

NOVA STEWARDSON: Well it was sort of shocking but it was amusing as well because like I still thought it was funny at that age but I don't know, I just like, I was just more curious, it just made me want to do it like more.

JENNY BROCKIE: What, made you want to watch more?

NOVA STEWARDSON: Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, you mentioned a photo that you saw that really shocked you when you were young.

NOVA STEWARDSON: Um, I was, I remember being in year 7 and they were passing around like pictures and there was a picture of like two Simpsons characters having sex, like with each other in a bush. Like it was rape but it was a cartoon and they were all family members and it was like"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: So it I was a rape scene? In a cartoon of the Simpsons?

NOVA STEWARDSON: Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what did you, what did you make of that?

NOVA STEWARDSON: Well it was disgusting, like that was really sort of shocked me. Like, I don't know, just a cartoon that I'd watched my whole life.

JENNY BROCKIE: And it was easy to access, this sort of stuff?

NOVA STEWARDSON: Well it just got around because it was like"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: Got shared around?

NOVA STEWARDSON: Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Charlie, about what you? You're 20 now? How old were you when you first saw porn?

CHARLIE KAY: I think I was around 12 or 13 the first time I saw an ad for porn. I was looking for cheats for Pokémon in primary school on my parents downloads, on my parents dial up, and this picture of this girl bouncing her boobies around came up on the screen. I'm like oh, what's that and then I went back to browsing Pokémon cheatss, I wasn't particularly interested in it.

JENNY BROCKIE: Right, so what happened after that?

CHARLIE KAY: Time progressed, you know, yada, yada, yada. Cheats didn't work out as it turned out. I happened, the first time I actually, you know, found it and was actually interested in it was when I was at my grandparents’ house and as I found out, at the age of 16, my grandmother had a very specific interest in certain kinds of literature as I happened to find out when I decided I would engage in some quiet reading material before going to bed and I went wow, this is kind of interesting. Oh, wow, that's how it was.

JENNY BROCKIE: So it was grandma's erotic literature that was your first introduction to pornography? Okay, you make it all sound very sort of fun and you know, easy going. But I mean were there things that you saw that shocked you once you started entering that world, look at that stuff?

CHARLIE KAY: Oh, yeah, there's always stuff on the internet that will, you know, scare you and you know someone made that? Um honestly, yeah, there's stuff out there that will scare you or surprise you.

JENNY BROCKIE: What sort of stuff scares you?

CHARLIE KAY: Oh, honestly there's disgusting stuff, scatophilia is one that's, oh ugh, a lot of disgusting scenes and concepts that are just outright wrong. Cartoons, I mean, why would someone do anything like that to the Simpsons and with that kind of context?

JENNY BROCKIE: What about the rest of you? I mean I'm interested in the younger people here, how readily available is pornography? How easy is it to access?

BOY 1: It's incredibly easy to access. And I could pick up my phone right now and show everyone. I have internet on my phone, I have internet on my laptop, I have internet everywhere, I can get away with lots of things and my mum doesn't know how to access the internet, she can't look at my history. So easy just to get away with it.

JENNY BROCKIE: Pornography covers a right range of things though; I mean can you get really hard core violent stuff easily?

JOSHUA DAVIES: As a 13 year old boy I received an email on my Hotmail account, that's going back, and it was a bestiality, so a woman having sex with a horse was the content of the email. So as a 13 year old boy I just clicked on it.

JENNY BROCKIE: So just a completely unsolicited email?

JOSHUA DAVIES: Yeah, unprovoked. I'm sure they gained my email from some other website but, yeah, animal pornography.

JENNY BROCKIE: Michael, you've studied kid’s exposure to porn, none of this presumably surprises you what we're hearing?

MICHAEL FLOOD, SOCIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF WOLLONGONG: No, look I suppose it bears out a few things. One is that young people's exposure to pornography in a sense is reaching saturation levels. Certainly by the time they're 16 or 17, the vast majority of young people, you know up to, close to 100% have seen porn in some form or another and by the time they're 12 or so, roughly you know half of boys, about a third of boys have had some kind of encounter with porn. There's a few trends that are underway in Australia though. One is that young people are using porn, consciously using porn at younger ages than they did. The total proportion of young people who use porn at all is increased. Young people's use of porn is much more through the internet now than, you know discovering your dad's DVDs or something.

JENNY BROCKIE: What do you mean by use of porn though because a lot of kids, a lot of kids look at it just to be amused by it or just out of curiosity. Are you talking about using it as in seriously getting into it or?

MICHAEL FLOOD: I mean, I mean deliberately viewing it. Whether that's, you know, a fifteen minutes mucking around with your mates at school or three hours of masturbation by yourself, you know, at 3 o'clock in the morning. So you know, I use it broadly. And in terms of that, you know, the really differences so that we know that young men are much more likely to use porn for masturbation than young women. Young women, to the extent they use porn, are more likely to be introduced to it by a boyfriend, by a male partner, and so there are kind of gender differences in general. But young people in some ways deliberately use porn for the same reasons as adults, because it's sexual information, it's sexually arousing, for humour as you mentioned, as a way to bond or connect with friends. So there's real overlaps for doing, young people and adults.

JENNY BROCKIE: Is that right Yovan?

YOVAN: Initially at least I think that when teenagers or young people in general, when they first come across it, I don't think that it's for, you know, for the purpose of, like masturbation and that kind of thing. I would say it's more linking what they've heard about sex and what they've been told before, it's something they can see, something that they can actually relate to.

JENNY BROCKIE: So making it real in a sense?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: Making it real. If they've never see it before, if they don't know what it looks like, what it's supposed to be like, I guess.

JENNY BROCKIE: But what if what they're seeing isn't real?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: Fair enough.

JENNY BROCKIE: What if what they're saying, seeing isn't, you know, representative of the way that they might want to have sex?

NOVA STEWARDSON: But porn's different to sex. Like you know, you can get some horrific things in porn, like you know, I don't think it's normal to have sex with five women in a room with it just one man there, where they're all naked and like licking stuff off each other.

KIRSTEN ANSCOMBE: I don't agree.

JENNY BROCKIE: Sorry, what were you going to say?

KIRSTEN ANSCOMBE: It's not up to guy, like really it's about the person and that person. You find yourself through porn and if that's what you're kink is, that's what you're kink is. If you like having sex with girls, you go have sex with girls. It's not really anyone's business but"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: So Kirsten, are you saying that's everything's okay in the world of pornography? There's nothing in that world that you don't find disturbing?

KIRSTEN ANSCOMBE: There are disturbing things but you're going to find out sooner or later. If you're going to be mature about it, like my mum gave me my first porn site and that was an educational thing. That was an educational thing for me. I didn't go looking for it.

JENNY BROCKIE: How old were you when she did that?

KIRSTEN ANSCOMBE: Me, I was about 14, 13, 14.

JENNY BROCKIE: And why did you do that mum?

NICOLE ANSCOMBE: Because I wanted to tell her that is not reality really. What you're looking at, because everyone was talking about porn and she'd come to me and said "mum, kids are saying this about porn, that about porn", and I sort of turned around and went "well, Kirsten, number one priority is you've got to remember porn is not reality, it's a TV, it's not real. And I've tried to teach both my daughter and my son that this is all for show. These shows take weeks to produce; you're not going to go into a sexual relationship being able to be a porn star basically.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, how do other people feel about that idea? Yes?

DOMINIC STEELE, ANGLICAN MINISTER: I've had the same concerns as you as a parent in terms of wanting to educate my children. I've got a 15 year old daughter and a 13 year old son and an 11 year old son and I want them to hear from me and my wife about the issues of life before they meet them in the playground and before they meet them on the net. So I'm with you at that point but I'm totally not with you on the issue of saying now let's go and look at it. And I've got two reasons for that. Well, my first thing is I don't want actually to fill their minds with images that are going to be unhelpful in the long term and my friends - my peers and I've now been married faithfully for 19 years but there are images in my mind from 25 years ago that I now wish weren't there. That I can't erase that I'm stuck with.

JENNY BROCKIE: Nikki, you look like you're disagreeing very strongly with this. I watch you have a conversation here with Dominic.

DOMINIC STEELE: I just say - but I do think you've got to teach your kids and so I'm a Christian person, I chose to read the Book of Genesis with my kids and there's every messy incident that you could possibly imagine and we, we in the safety of two weeks of family holiday, we read it through. We had lots of big open discussion and our kids heard about all these issues before they met them in the playground and I think that was a good thing to do.

NICOLE ANSCOMBE: But my point is, reality is, if you're, I can understand where you're coming from but reality is your child is going to go and look at porn whether you say yes, no, maybe. Why don't you inform your child which - take them to a site that you already know that's not so in your face that they could say okay, okay, now I understand what it is. Now I've got no reason to have a look at it again maybe. They might go okay, cool.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, one at a time. Charlie?

CHARLIE KAY: From a really practical perspective, I'm actually looking back on my teenage years, I'm actually really grateful that I took the time to look up pornography, despite the fact that my parents strongly disagreed with me looking at it because it helped me figure things out. Oh, it's oh, that's how that works. Oh, you can do that. Oh, you can do that with people who are the same gender as you. Oh, you can do that with two people who are the same gender as you. It's an amazing thing and it opened my eyes and it helped me figure out a lot of things, A, about my myself, and you know, what I like, but B, okay, so this sex stuff everyone's talking about in high school. That's how it somewhat works, of course. You know now that I'm 20 and you know, have had a few partners and have obviously, sorry, I have had sex obviously, I realise it's not exactly living up to the reputation. But I'm still grateful; it's not living up to the reputation pornography decided to give it. Not to, I'm not to dismantle anyone I've ever had a sexual relationship with. I should have thought that through before I said it.

JENNY BROCKIE: Yes, the hole is getting deeper and deeper.

CHARLIE: Okay, so let's just step out of that hole. I'm grateful for it because it actually gave me a visual image. If you've ever went through sex education it was very sterile for me. It didn't explain oh, so it was basically you stick the pee pee in the woman's vagina but it didn't say, you know, physical contact, how you should hold her, what you should do with your hands. How sex works.

NOVA STEWARDSON: Did porn say that? No.

CHARLIE KAY: Porn doesn't always"¦

NOVA STEWARDSON: Did porn say you should claw someone's back? Is that how normal sex works?

JENNY BROCKIE: Sorry, what were you going to say?

ZOE KOULOURIS: Yeah, I think porn gives it this whole image of it being something that is like gross. You kind of, like for me personally I looked at it and was just like oh, my God, this is like what is going on? It puts a negative connotation on sex that, um, I think, yeah, isn't right to watch as a first kind of sexual, like your first introduction to a sexual experience.

JENNY BROCKIE: And that's relevant, that point, because if people are watching porn younger and younger kids, you know, if it's being watched in primary school then it is the first introduction to a sexual"¦

ZOE KOULOURIS: Yeah, like you watch it for the first time, not scared of sex but you just like oh, is that really what happens?

JENNY BROCKIE: Fida, what did you want to say?

FIDA SANJAKDAR, TEACHER EDUCATION, MONASH UNIVERSITY: As an educator I find it really hard to formulate an argument. I agree with Dominic about using porn as an educative tool. I think there's, even listening to the panel today and reading literature on the effects of porn, it really does have far more detrimental effects than it does positive. Including, you know, there's this notion of portraying sex as something that's casual, as opposed to being relational and something related to being committed to somebody. And my greatest concern is how it's still very common to find violence against women being normalised. So I find it really hard to formulate an argument.

NICOLE ANSCOMBE: I didn't say it was an educative tool at all, that's not what I was saying at all.

NIKKI GOLDSTEIN, SEXOLOGIST: If you're going to see it, then - like reality of it is we're talking about pop ups and it exists and even if you don't go out to find it, you're going to be exposed to it. So you know, the first time I watched porn, if someone was sitting there next to me that I trusted to say 'Hey Nikki, this isn't what actually happens and, you know, there's a lot that goes into this and this isn't reality." Then straight away I think it starts to put those wheels in motion about what porn is and where it's placed.

JENNY BROCKIE: Up the back, yeah?

BOY 2: I wish someone told me that the first time I watched porn because I come from a Christian background and porn was never talked about in my family and it took me like two years to realise that's porn and that's sex and I wish I would have learned that at the beginning. If you told me that right then and there...

DOMINIC STEELE: I'm trying to persuade Christians to talk openly about it and to talk openly about sex.

JENNY BROCKIE: But you're suggesting through Genesis that it be talked about?

DOMINIC STEELE: Well you could do it through Genesis but you could do it through, I would actually hope that through the whole way we communicate with our kids and our friends, they would actually see that marriage is a place where the husband can serve the wife, love the wife, that sex is about serving each other, not using each other. And the picture of - that porn gives is not that.

JENNY BROCKIE: You're Zoe's mum?

SUSAN KOULOURIS: I'm Zoe's mum, yeah, and I think we speak openly, well I feel we have always spoken openly. But I don't think when I have spoken about sex with my children, I have three teenage children, it hasn't been about sex. It's been about a relationship and when one of my children, Zoe was ready to form...

JENNY BROCKIE: Crawl under the seat right now.

SUSAN KOULOURIS: No, when Zoe was curious and wanted to understand about maybe entering a sexual relationship, the discussion wasn't about porn or sex, it was more about what are you happy doing? Who are you as a person? Do you love this person?

JENNY BROCKIE: But that's sex education as opposed to talking about porn?

ZOE KOULOURIS: But with us, I was going to say, like okay, the difference, the difference with our relationship to yours, we were open again about sex. When I watched my first, when I watched porn for the first time I didn't watch it with mum.

JENNY BROCKIE: How old were you?

ZOE KOULOURIS: We didn't watch it - she gave me...

JENNY BROCKIE: They didn't watch the whole thing apparently. How old were you though the first time you saw it?

ZOE KOULOURIS: I reckon year 7, I was yeah, probably around 12. So when I watched it for the first time I went to mum, I was like yeah I saw this, oh, gross. But I think, like as you were saying, you know the difference between, without having to explicitly talk about it with mum, you know the difference between pornography and like real life sex and yeah, I just was saying as well the majority of the time you don't have one sexual partner forever, you don't only have sex with your husband, you have sex before marriage, you have, it's just there needs to be more of a reality with that and I think there's two extremes where you've got pornography as one extreme and then you've got, I don't know, just kind of, yeah, then you've got Genesis, like you can't really, they're two really big extremes and there needs to be some kind of medium.

JENNY BROCKIE: It's interesting these two things emerging though, isn't it? It seems the conversation is heading from one about pornography to a conversation about sex education which is quite, you know something else. Zoe, tell me about some of the things that you've seen that have shocked you...

ZOE KOULOURIS: Yeah, there's been some good ones. There's two actually videos, where it's these two, this lesbian couple, Asian lesbian couple and they're kind of pooing and rubbing the poo all over themselves and vomiting on each other and, yeah, yeah, it's a lovely video.

JENNY BROCKIE: And how widely viewed is that video?

ZOE KOULOURIS: That was, yeah, that was huge. At school everyone watched it.

JENNY BROCKIE: Show of hands how many people have seen that video. Just out of interest. Yeah?

CHARLIE KAY: I have kept my sanity.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, anyone else, like quite a few hands went up. The reason I'm raising this is because it is a well-known clip. A lot of people have raised this clip curing our research and it's so well-known now that what's happening is that kids are filming their own reactions to watching it and they've posting those reactions on-line. Here's an example of their reactions.

VIDEO CLIP PLAYED.

JENNY BROCKIE: Dominic I just wanted to get your reaction to the way those kids reacted to that clip because it didn't look to me like they were taking it terribly seriously at all?

DOMINIC STEELE: I mean I just felt profoundly disturbed. I just, I mean I've not seen the clip that you're talking about and I just was thinking...

JENNY BROCKIE: It's pretty awful, I've seen it, a lot of people have seen it and it's pretty awful.

DOMINIC STEELE: I mean I'm responsible for a youth group, I'm responsible for teaching kids in all sorts of forums and just the idea that the children that I'm responsible for would be looking at that made me feel really sad.

JENNY BROCKIE: Nikki, what did you want to say?

NIKKI GOLDSTEIN: We’ve got such a negative; we’re talking so negatively about porn, now not all porn is bestiality or scat play or anything like that. There is good porn out there.

JENNY BROCKIE: Can you explain what scat play is for the people at home?

NIKKI GOLDSTEIN: Scat play is the play of faeces. But it’s actually sometimes in a form as BDSM, so you know when something like that when people think it’s pooing on each other and playing with it, sometimes it’s a form of humiliation and dominance. Now that’s something that people don’t understand when they see that type of porn, so you know, when I hear a lot of you saying that this particular act is disgusting and this isn’t normal, you know, at a certain age we don’t know what normal is and most people in general society don’t know and can’t tell me, well they can tell me what’s normal, but they can’t tell me where they get that normality from. So I just want to say that there is porn. And there’s no such thing as normal when it comes to sex....

JENNY BROCKIE: Michael, you’re shaking your head. You’re not happy here, I just want to hear what Michael has to say...

MICHAEL FLOOD: Two problems, one is that porn can shift our sense of what’s normal, like for example, um, my concern is commercial heterosexual porn, and most commercial heterosexual porn shows anal sex, shows ejaculating on faces, shows multiple penetration and so on. Now I have no problem by themselves with those practises, but certainly what’s clear is that young men are more interested in those practises, cumming on girl’s faces, having anal intercourse because of their consumption of porn. So porn shifts what we think is normal and there are clearly some practises in some porn, you know child porn and so on that none of us would condone, but my concern is that most mainstream porn in fact gives us a very narrow vision of what sex is and tells us nothing about communication, nothing about desire or love or anything. And what concerns me most of all is I think some porn socialises young men to rape, and socialises young men to be coercive, to push the boundaries with women and to not take no for an answer. That I think is the most troubling aspect of mainstream porn.


JENNY BROCKIE: Charlie, I want to talk to you a little bit more about what you mentioned earlier about learning from porn, about how you learnt about sex from porn. What did you learn?

CHARLIE KAY: Okay, a really awful story. I can basically sum up my first sexual experience in pretty much five words, is that the right hole? There's unfortunately, I'm not sure how many of you remember primary school or secondary school and sex education but it was black and white diagrams. I know, I happen to know coming out of sex education that I had something in me called a vas deferens and a woman had something in her called a fallopian tube but I didn't know exactly if I wanted to is sex with someone how we should approach it, how much it could hurt a woman on her first time, how to be gentle and caring. For me, pornography became something like okay, I'm willing to approach this from a research perspective, which is kind of sad. I looked at porn for tips. One of the best things I have learnt from pornography is how to kiss someone. I actually learned some good tactics from a video that was entirely dedicated to two girls practicing their kissing technique but it actually helped me. There's stuff you can learn from it, even if it's a highly fantasised reality.

NOVA STEWARDSON: I'd like to know what porn you were watching that shows you how be gentle when a girl's having sex for the first time, that shows that she has pain and that that would hurt her if you did it too rough. Never in the porn I've seen, like the sex being about pleasuring the women. It's about, you know, the man mainly, it's just...

JENNY BROCKIE: Guys.

CHARLIE KAY: Okay, from a practical thing, one thing I really regret and I did actually learn this from porn, I didn't realise how gentle you had to be with a girl whose first time it was and I really, really regret that. I feel horrible about that, pornography gave me the wrong idea, I'll admit that.

NOVA STEWARDSON: But you said before that it had taught you things and then you said that in sex ed it didn't you, like you implied that it taught you how to be gentle.

CHARLIE KAY: It taught me how to - it didn't teach me how to be gentle but it taught me how to be a bit more confident and approach a subject.

YOVAN GRBOVIC: I agree, I think that there's definitely something that you can learn from it or something that you can take from it, but I think there needs to be a distinction, a clear distinction made between commercial pornography and amateur pornography. Commercial pornography, you know, it's made to make money that is the reason why it's made. In amateur pornography I guess you can - there is something that you can learn from that because that is in some way a natural relationship. You can argue that it's not natural because not everyone films themselves and uploads to the internet but it's still relatively more natural than commercial pornography.

JENNY BROCKIE: The interesting thing for me though is how much is the porn that you watch influencing the way that you have sex. How much is it influencing the way you have sex do you think?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: Personally?

JENNY BROCKIE: Yes.

YOVAN GRBOVIC: I like to think of myself as quite creative so I don't think it influences me to that, to a very large extent very much but...

JENNY BROCKIE: Don't tell me you're not going to be able to remember...

YOVAN GRBOVIC: I remember. No I mean, there are some things I'm sure which I wouldn't have thought of or I wouldn't have thought were as important without having seen pornography.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you model yourselves on what you see though?

CHARLIE KAY: No.

JENNY BROCKIE: I mean not totally but obviously to some degree you have Charlie?

CHARLIE KAY: I used amateur pornography during my research, let's call it the research phase, and you know, what there was actually a couple of tricks I did learn, ways to make a woman feel good, some things I didn't learn I'll admit, yeah.

SUSAN KOULOURIS: I think what's really interesting is that Zoe just made a comment before that both, like my daughter and the girl; I can't remember her name - Nova, have a similar view. But what is it teaching women?

JENNY BROCKIE: Sorry, guys.

ZOE KOULOURIS: What I have seen is has taught me things that are not, like not pleasurable for a woman at all. Who wants to be cum on? I don't understand why that is, like you boys may think oh, yeah, it's awesome, like I love it, but the girl who's getting it done to her, and everyone can say whatever they want and be like no, I actually really like it. You don't like it and you're doing it one, it could be, obviously this is a bad thing if you're being forced to do it, that's one reason. Another is to please you partner and you're like okay, this feels good for you, I want to do it for you and again you kind of need to think about for a woman it would make them feel like you guys aren't thinking about what would make them feel good, it's more okay, what can I do that's more creative or what can I do that will make me feel like a porn star and trying to give you that...

YOVAN GRBOVIC: For me personally I actually did, when I do or when I did watch porn I was like in that research phase, in your research phase. I was thinking like actually which parts of this is the woman enjoying and which are they not? Like what is something I haven't thought or that I don't know, that I wouldn't have done otherwise that it seems like women enjoy? Obviously depends on the specific relationship. Different partners will have...

ZOE KOULOURIS: You can't tell from porn. If you want to know what your partner wants ask her. You don't - like you'll never get a true perspective or true like idea of what a woman would want from porn, ever, because again, every woman's interests are different so maybe there's someone that does enjoy it, that's fine. But you need to know personally what, yeah, what they think.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Charlie?

CHARLIE KAY: Actually, you know, I'll completely agree. I did have to, I have talked with my partners, male and female, about what they like and what they prefer and I've moved on from the phase where I had to use porn to figure out how to approach that. But I'm not going to deny it happened. I was using porn as a guide and I happen to think that for someone whose first time it was, it was not the worst the teacher.

JENNY BROCKIE: Does porn put pressure on boys? I mean we're talking about the pressure on girls. What about the pressure on boys?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: Yeah, I would say I definitely know friends from school who have complained, who have said: "Oh, man I saw that video and his thing was huge, oh, I must be like really the odd one out." I mean, you know, I heard that from me personally. No but...

JENNY BROCKIE: Why did I know that that was what you were going to say?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: No, but I think that it can put a sort of a self-confidence issue on people if they see something, even a girl if they see a girl with fake boobs or something like that, it can be like wow, they can get self-confidence problems by comparing themselves with that.

JENNY BROCKIE: Charlie, pressure on boys?

CHARLIE KAY: Yes, yes, yes. One of the worst pressures I ever felt was when I couldn't get sex to work, neither partner was enjoying it. We kept trying to talk, kept trying different things and everything I'd learnt up to that point said sex is meant to be enjoyable. You both, you know, get off. You both be happy...

JENNY BROCKIE: So this is from porn you were getting this idea?

CHARLIE KAY: Yes, that is from porn I was getting this idea. There's a lot of pressure even worse to bring your partner to climax, there's a massive amount of pressure to make sure you bring your partner to climax, otherwise you are an awful lover. Sometimes it doesn't happen.

WOMAN 1: I think that's exactly what porn does. It creates an unrealistic expectation of what you think is supposed to happen, regardless of whether or not you distinguish it between - with reality and I don't think you do need it for sexual education. I think it's kind of an inherent part of human nature. I mean you create your own porn in a way when you're 6 or 7 making magic with Ken and Barbie. You don't need someone else, you don't need to intrude on someone else and doing explicit things to be able to learn what you're meant to do, I think.

KRISTY LANG, SEX EDUCATION TEACHER: What I know as a sex educator is that students now consider things, things like anal sex, multiple partner sex, oral sex on first meetings as standard normal behaviour. They consider pubic hair a complete no, no and these are things, these are huge social changes that have happened in the space of just my lifetime, and my sexually active lifetime to such shocking and confronting levels that we've had to modify our entire sex education program to cater for the emotional needs that are going with young girls saying: How do I say no to anal sex? Now that's coming from somewhere. To say that it's understood as the difference between reality and normal, I'm sorry, I disagree with that. That there is a clear conditioning going on, that people don't see that it's different from reality because we're seeing that behaviour emulating in 13, 14, 15 year old kids.

JENNY BROCKIE: Joshua, what do you think?

JOSHUA DAVIES: Well I think it kind of, pornography for me anyway at a young age at about 13 ticked off a I learned behaviour where I would - my learned behaviour was to enjoy it, to embrace it and to ejaculate probably at the end of the final part of it. Even though it wasn't really I was still drawn to it and I was still easily triggered into becoming involved in it. As soon as a stimuli was set off, it's not an addiction that is out of control or something that I can think about all the time but I know that as soon as a stimulant, as soon as I'm stimulated, it's very hard for me to stop the downward spiral of me entering into it and it's something that I don't want to do. That's something you have to understand, it's something that I don't agree with, I think it's morally as well as...

JENNY BROCKIE: Now you're a Catholic?

JOSHUA DAVIES: Yes, I'm a practising Catholic.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you work as a chaplain at a Catholic school?

JOSHUA DAVIES: Yes I do, yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: So do you still struggle with that?

JOSHUA DAVIES: Yeah, absolutely, every day and I'm going to struggle for the rest of my life because the learned behaviour is something that I - and I'm a pretty strong willed person as well. I don't think I'm a weak or unconfident person but when, when it's ticked off. Yeah. So like any addiction I guess. It's something that I struggle with. Even though it goes against everything that I believe in, something I struggle with dealing with. And I just think perhaps if I was told at a young age, and I knew pornography was wrong but I was never sat down and explained why it was wrong and how to deal with it emotionally and intelligently. Perhaps I would have made the decision, behind my parents' back, behind society's back, delve into it.

CHARLIE KAY: I will point out that I'm like Joshua and I don't have happen to have a problem with it. When I'm in a relationship I'll stop, you know, engaging, I'll stop reading pornography or watching it and I'll just enjoy the relationship that I'm in. I'm in a relationship at the moment, I don't view porn. When I'm out of a relationship, I view porn. I've got absolutely no problem with that.

JOSHUA DAVIES: I think the point is the reasons I find it wrong just from a moral standpoint but just from a personal experience, my inability to, like say I have a female friend who I want to view as a human being, dignified, beautiful, precious, wonderful, and when I look at her and see the things that I've seen in pornography, when I've visualised her as the object of sexual penetration, I lose my ability to make the connection between a human being and the object that I've lusted over in my privacy.

JENNY BROCKIE: Yeah, up the back.

BOY 2: I watch porn and I have two female patrols and I've never come across that problem.

ZOE KOULOURIS: There's this whole like connotation in this discussion, and I'm not saying that one's right or wrong, that pornography as a whole is wrong and I feel like we're linking it a lot to the sexual act as being wrong. And the whole idea that you couldn't look at a woman the same away way but you're sexually attracted to this person, this woman, why would that not make you feel...

JOSHUA DAVIES: Because it's a pure lust. There's no appreciation of her personhood or her dignity. I’m not looking at a human being.

ZOE KOULOURIS: I'm saying like there's got to be a middle ground. Like not every porn has to be like that and I know...

JOSHUA DAVIES: I agree.

ZOE KOULOURIS: The majority - not the majority but a lot of porn shows women, and I said that before, it shows women in a bad way. But you can't look at the way - no, but it's like...I'm just saying...I love you a lot. I'm just saying I feel like we're talking about a huge extreme and to say that any kind of look at sex that isn't your own sex as being something that's bad is not necessarily the right thing to talk, thing to say.

SUSAN KOULOURIS: But the issue I think is that me as a mum thinking that you had exposure to pornography at 13 before you even felt like you would have liked to participate in the sexual act makes my kind of a sad because where is your discovery of something that I discovered in the natural path of growing? It's almost it's just exposed to you and you've seen, is that where I should be? Yes, there should be emotion in it and when we started talking about, when we started talking about sex like as a mother daughter, I think if I had known that at 13 you were exposed to it my discussion with you would have been a lot more stronger about relationship, love and respect. And I think that, I think that somehow this pornography industry is stealing that away from you and I think all of you have had something stolen because It's like, here, whether you want it or not, this is what you should be seeing.

YOVAN GRBOVIC: I agree like that first, like that feeling of discovery or whatever less, that it's present less in our generation, but I could say porn could be a part of it. It could be a factor but I think there are definitely other factors.

WOMAN 2: I think what it shows, the prevalence of porn and the effect on people and how some young people who haven’t had a talk to their parents, um, I think the education system needs to include it because it’s like limping behind all this new technology. And I think by having that education in place and learning about that it’s not reality will really make a massive difference and clear up some of the confusion that we’ve seen here tonight.

VIDEO CLIP

JENNY BROCKIE: Rene, how did it come about, these classes? I mean did the school suggest them? Did you suggest them?

RENE RYAN, PRIMARY TEACHER: Child protection is a mandatory part of the New South Wales curriculum and the children learn about three types of abuse, physical, emotional and sexual and that's a sexual abuse lesson. And I know some people don't realise this but showing pornography to children is actually classed as sexual abuse, like deliberately exposing them to it at that age. These children are only in year 5 or 6 yeah, so it's not good for children. As we've heard from these young people a phone can get passed around outside school. So they have to develop the strategies so they can protect themselves from viewing those things that are damaging to them at that age, in my opinion.

JENNY BROCKIE: Jonathan, what did you think looking at the way that Rene's teaching her kids?

JONATHAN DOYLE, CHOICE Z MEDIA: Look, fundamentally my work with the independent sector, I'd love to encourage parents as much as possible, I think I agree with Nikki on that, I think.

JENNY BROCKIE: No, but I'm interested in your reaction just to the way that she was teaching?

JONATHAN DOYLE: Personally I thought the children were a little young. I think I'd like to see parents really empowered because you've got various rages of psychosexual development in that room. Some children quite advanced, some children less so. I didn't see anything particularly problematic and I wasn't...

RENE RYAN: If they're 12, they're going to high school next year and that is the New South Wales curriculum in public schools which is a value reach places, we're trying to protect the children as much as possible and give them all the skills going forward as they're getting exposed to this. You might say we can't stop but I really think we need to try.

JENNY BROCKIE: Dominic, what do you think about the way Rene was teaching?

DOMINIC STEELE: My position is I want to talk to our kids before the issues come up in the playground and so definitely I want to talk to them early so I was happy that Rene was talking to them early. I thought you did a really good job and so yeah, that's great.

RENE RYAN: All teachers are teaching the same lesson, it's not just me doing it at my school.

JENNY BROCKIE: Should pornography be talked about at school in a formal setting? I mean it is talked about at school in the playground. What, there's general agreement about this? Does it...

FIDA SANJAKDAR: There's a place to talk about pornography to Muslim students in an Islamic school context as well. I mean Islam talks about every aspect of sexuality, although it's still a very sensitive topic, a very taboo topic amongst the Muslim community. Islam covers all of that and I remember talking to a very prominent member of the Muslim community about whether this kind of, these kinds of discussions should take place in Islamic schools and I remember he clearly said: "Does Allah talk about it in the Koran in terms of the teaching in the scripture? Is it supported in the Hadid?" And the answer is yes so if Allah can talk about it, why are we shying away from it?

NOVA STEWARDSON: It should be, exposed if that makes any sense? You know it wasn’t explained to me that porn is bad blah, blah, blah, this is not how it’s done, till I’d seen it already. It was already in my head, I had to learn afterwards when if you expose someone or to an understanding so they understand what it is rather than just trying to stop it completely...

JENNY BROCKIE: Ok, Texus, you were nodding your head there why?

TEXUS KENT: I mean I don’t know how I got through the majority of my life without being exposed to much of it. And the thing is, you know when I was, I was just absolutely shocked. I think it should at least at some level be talked about early on in school so that people, you know, can know what to look out for and so that people – I was really like traumatised when I just saw some things written down in some places so you know I think, things are getting more graphic, more harmful, and if people aren’t told about it early then one day the persons just going to have a heart attack after seeing something.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you agree with that that Kristy? You teach kids. You teach at risk..

KRISTY LANG: Yeah I teach at risk secondary kids that are disengaged from education and a lot of - and I actually explicitly teach the sex education part of it so a lot of what we cover inevitably ends up talking about pornography

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you get resistance from parents? I mean I wonder how parents are going to react if they're told that this school is going to start teaching about...

KRISTY LANG: No, never actually because we talk about it in a way of, you know, that it is, it is trying to help the children understand about respect, media influences and how it's conditioning us and how it's limiting our imagination and how so - in so many ways young women are only being seen through the pornographic imagination and that's becoming a really, you know, single minded way that is evident when young kids, you know, young girls come into school dressed like they could be working in a strip club and not seeing a problem with how they're presenting themselves.

JENNY BROCKIE: We're going to have to wrap up but I just wanted to ask you in general whether you think that pornography might be filling a gap left by inadequate sexual education. What do people think about that? Jenny, you're writing, you're writing some of the sex education program for the Victorian government, is that right?

JENNY WALSH, LA TROBE UNIVERSITY: I've written the primary school curriculum for Victoria and I'm currently reviewing the national secondary school teaching curriculum.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you think porn is, do you think porn is kind of filling a gap that's left by sex education being inadequate?

JENNY WALSH: Absolutely. So for instance, in puberty education sexual feelings just get cauterised from discussions about what it's like to grow up and the feelings that you have. So we haven't even talked about what's good about sex and so someone, you've got to go somewhere to find out about it. So what I'd really argue for in pornography education is please don't forget to talk about what's good about sex and what's good about relationships as well.

JENNY BROCKIE: What do you think about the quality of sex education and do you think that pornography meets an inadequacy there?

CHARLIE KAY: Um, I was raised, I went to high school in a private school, a private religious school and sex education there, I will say it blatantly, was awful. If I actually have to turn on amateur pornography to figure out how I'm going to approach sex there is something missing in how I'm being taught.

JENNY BROCKIE: Michael, final comment from you about this?

MICHAEL FLOOD: Yeah, look, two are things are needed. One is, you know, there is good evidence that if you have those conversations with young people, they're more likely to resist some of the kind of narrow sexist messages in porn. So you can inoculate young people and adults against some of the harms associated with porn. Finally we've got to hold the porn industry to account. We've got to demand better porn, dare I say it. Porn that is ethical, that is respectful. You know, I think we actually need to produce better materials about sex, about lust, for adults and young people alike.

JENNY BROCKIE: How will you deal with pornography if you have children yourselves?

YOVAN GRBOVIC: Well, having listened to this discussion I'm definitely going to, I think that there is a place in sex education to create like a buffer or a protection, so that they're not shocked, they're not traumatised by it on the first experience, the first time they see it. I just want to make sure that they understand it objectively, that they see the positive things about it, the good things about it, and for me personally above all I think most important thing is for people to understand that it really is not the same as reality. In the same way you see an action movie, military movie, it's not the same as real life.

JENNY BROCKIE: Nova, how would you deal with it if you have kids?

NOVA STEWARDSON: There's stuff we can't hide from people. We can't hide porn and it's not going to help us to do that, and like ignorance is not always - it's never really a good thing. So just to, you know, just to like educate and just to, I don't know, send out an understanding.

JENNY BROCKIE: Charlie?

CHARLIE KAY: Honestly, God forbid I ever have children but if I did I would probably follow the example of one my best friends who has always, always been completely open with her child about sex, about puberty. Her child's five and she’s taught her daughter the appropriate names for her genitalia, she's told her that there are occasionally naughty images out there and that she might view them but she should not be scared of them. And if she views them she should come see her. I completely admire her example and I would follow that. I will want a relationship with a kid where they felt like they could come to me with any problem. I would be the answer to them instead of pornography.

JENNY BROCKIE: We do have to wrap it up.