5 Dec 2018

One in four pre-teens exposed to pornography - survey

6:31 pm on 5 December 2018

More than two-thirds of New Zealand teenagers have been exposed to pornography, and one in four have seen it by the age of 12, according to the results of a new survey.

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Photo: 123RF

The Office of Film and Literature Classification surveyed more than 2000 teens aged between 14 and 17 for a research project called 'NZ Youth and Porn.'

The main reason teenagers looked at porn was curiosity, followed by accidental exposure, entertainment, sexual arousal, pleasure or boredom.

The research found 72 percent of teenagers who had seen porn recently saw things that made them feel uncomfortable, and 42 percent of regular viewers said they would like to spend less time looking at porn, but found this hard to do.

Overall, the research found young people thought porn was too easy to access.

Read the full report here:

Chief Censor David Shanks said technological and social shifts had changed everything about porn and young people.

"Our research provides New Zealanders and decision-makers robust and up-to-date evidence about what is happening and what the issues are, which can in turn inform work in areas such as public policy, health, and education."

The Sexual Abuse Prevention Network said the results showed New Zealand needed to ensure that comprehensive sexuality education was available to all young people.

General manager Fiona McNamara said the impact of pornography on young people could be reduced by refocusing conversations around consent and positive intimate relationships with young people.

"Alongside education for young people, there needs to be education for adults who have young people in their lives - this includes parents, teachers and community workers. Adults need to be equipped with the skills to talk to young people about pornography and how to view it critically."

Hutt Valley High School has taken education around pornography into their own hands with a play.

Student Thomas Avery said the play covered the impacts pornography had on teenage relationships.

"Teenagers nowadays look at pornography and see love and romance which is completely absurd. It is misogyny disguised as harmless pleasure; it's camera angles lighting and acting."

High school student Alex Scott-Billing said the report showed boys were more likely to watch it, which did not surprise him.

"Definitely lads talking about 'I saw this cool video last night.' Just the whole culture around it is really normalised, which I don't think is a good thing."

He said pornography could pop up as advertisements on other websites, so teenagers did not have to look for it.

Alex Scott-Billing and Thomas Avery.

Alex Scott-Billing and Thomas Avery. Photo: RNZ / Charlie Dreaver

Teacher Bernard Beckett said the play, which had reached thousands of students, had brilliant feedback.

"We should have huge faith and optimism when it comes to our young people. They are really sensitive to the needs of people around them and they are as frightened, curious and excited about sex as every other generation has been."