Young people make a link between pornography and their harmful sexual behaviour

November 24, 2016
Credit: University of Melbourne

Young people who had sexually abused other children said that helping them to manage pornography and improving their sexuality education could have helped prevent their abusive behaviour. The findings represent the rarely-captured voices of young people who sexually abuse, in a policy briefing paper released today by the University of Melbourne.

Researchers asked 14 young people what could have been different in their lives so that they did not develop harmful sexual behaviour. They also asked six treatment-providing workers to reflect on the insights of the young people. Three main opportunities for prevention emerged, including taking action in the lives of young people to:

  • make their home and school relationships safe
  • reform their sexuality education
  • help their management of

The study's lead author Gemma McKibbin, PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne said that the findings made it clear that more needed to be done in sexual health policy for vulnerable groups of children, and to restrict young people's access to pornography.

"The access that young people are having to pornography, as well as our collective 'turning a blind eye,' is akin to a kind of cultural grooming of children," Ms McKibbin added.

Sexually abusive behaviour occurs when a child or young person sexually abuses another child or young person. Previous studies have shown that about half the victims of child-on-child sexual abuse are under the age of six, while the children who abuse are themselves likely to be aged just 12.

Of the young people who participated in the study, 12 said they had been exposed to pornography, while three of the boys directly attributed their sexually abusive behaviour to their pornography consumption.

"We can't on the one hand say we don't want to talk with young children about sexuality, while on the other hand do nothing about the multi-billion-dollar pornography industry and the that is enabling access," Ms McKibbin added.

"It may be that government needs to intervene at this point. Pornography can't be seen as the sole responsibility of parents or schools because it has gone way beyond that. We probably need to engage directly with the pornography industry and the telecommunications industry," she said.

The study participants also highlighted the need to improve as a way to promote respectful sexual relationships and counter the distorted messages they received from pornography.

"Consistent, protective sex education needed to be introduced as soon as children started school, if not before, Ms McKibbin said.

Study co-authors also included Professor Cathy Humphreys and Dr Bridget Hamilton from the University of Melbourne.

"The effects of child-on-child sexual abuse are negative and far-reaching for the victims as well as the young people who abuse," Prof Humphreys said.

"We have a great opportunity with the introduction of Respectful Relationships Education in Victorian schools to address sexually abusive behaviour.

"This report makes a significant contribution to curriculum messages that could be specifically designed to prevent such behaviour, and protect our vulnerable ."

Explore further: Change sex education to combat the effects of porn, say researchers

Related Stories

Change sex education to combat the effects of porn, say researchers

October 18, 2016
A Parliamentary Group focusing on family and child protection is to hear how changes are needed to sex education in the classroom to protect young people from the damaging effects of pornography.

Report calls for urgent action and further research to protect children from exposure to pornography

June 11, 2013
Kristina Massey, Lecturer in the Department of Law and Criminal Justice Studies, is part of a research team, led by Middlesex University, calling for urgent action and further study on the effect pornography has upon the ...

Large numbers of teenage girls experience sexual coercion in relationships

February 11, 2015
More than four in ten teenage schoolgirls in England have experienced sexual coercion, new research by University of Bristol academics launched today [11 February] reveals. Most were pressured to have sex or other sexual ...

Teenagers' pornography and sexual experiences—fewer differences than expected

April 8, 2014
Although a greater proportion of teenage boys than girls watch and fantasise about sex they have seen in pornography, there are no differences between the sexes when it comes to what types of sex they fantasise about. This ...

Internet porn bad for adolescent health

May 21, 2012
Emerging evidence indicates that internet pornography is strongly associated with risky sexual behavior among adolescents, according a review from UNSW's Kirby Institute.

Students want more from school sex ed, new survey reveals

March 16, 2016
School-based education programs have edged out friends and parents as secondary students' most used source of information about sexuality and relationships in a new survey by Deakin University and the University of South ...

Recommended for you

Study shows probiotics can prevent sepsis in infants

August 17, 2017
A research team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health has determined that a special mixture of good bacteria in the body reduced the incidence of sepsis in infants in India by 40 percent at ...

Children who sleep an hour less at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, says study

August 15, 2017
A study has found that children who slept on average one hour less a night had higher risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including higher levels of blood glucose and insulin resistance.

Low blood sugars in newborns linked to later difficulties

August 8, 2017
A newborn condition affecting one in six babies has been linked to impairment in some high-level brain functions that shows up by age 4.5 years.

Can breast milk feed a love of vegetables?

August 4, 2017
(HealthDay)—Want your preschooler to eat veggies without a fuss? Try eating veggies while you're breast-feeding.

Small drop in measles vaccinations would have outsized effect, study estimates

July 24, 2017
Small reductions in childhood measles vaccinations in the United States would produce disproportionately large increases in the number of measles cases and in related public health costs, according to a new study by researchers ...

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.