‘Catastrophic’ rise in kids watching porn
KIDS as young as three are being exposed to online porn, which is triggering deviant sexual behaviour and long-term damage to their development.
Experts have warned that statistics showing a sharp rise in children's exposure to porn were 'catastrophic', 'horrific' and 'staggering'.
They said porn had become a key sex educator of children and one blamed parents for the dangerous trend.
Hetty Johnstone, founder of child advocate group Bravehearts, said children from the age of three were inadvertently accessing online porn on smart phones and devices.
"There was a time when sexual predators groomed children with pornography. Now, that work is being done for them by parents who buy their children smart devices or give them unlimited access to them," she warned.
"These kids are learning that deviant sex is normal, that it's ok to have your hair pulled or to be smacked while having sex."
Ms Johnstone warned that exposure to porn was having a catastrophic effect on children, their normal development and their interpersonal relationships.
"We are sexualising our children from a very young age," she warned.
"We have changed everything about what is seen as normal. We have made pornography the new normal for our children," she said.
Ms Johnstone said children should not have their own internet devices until they were 14 or 15 - to protect them from porn.
"If not, you might as well drop off your children in the middle of the night in a place like King's Cross and come back three hours later and hope that they haven't seen or experienced anything dangerous or disturbing," she said.
Gary Poole, director of Act for Kids in Queensland, said statistics showed a staggering rise in children's exposure to porn.
"These statistics are horrific, just horrific," he said.
"Porn is damaging a whole generation of children and their parents don't have a clue what their kids are doing. Their kids are running rings around them.
"It's absolutely insidious what porn is doing to our children. They are believing that this is the normal way that people behave," Mr Poole said.
"This is why we are seeing the things we are seeing with the children that we work with."
Miranda Bain, who leads and manages a number of programs for Act for Kids on the Gold Coast, including the State Government-funded Sexual Abuse Counselling Service (SAC), agreed
"This is a massive issue," she warned.
She said unfortunately, porn had become a key sex educator of children - with devastating results - and she and her team are creating resources to tackle its impact on young people's sexual development.
"Adolescents are seeking out online sexual content to learn how to be sexual themselves and this content doesn't depict relationships of equality," she said.
Ms Bain said children were exposed to porn through the following ways:
- Children as young as six were groomed by sexual predators with porn.
- An older child could use porn as a means of encouraging a younger child to engage in sexual acts with him or her.
- Children exploring the internet were inadvertently exposed to porn through pop-ups.