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Certain your child has never watched porn? The truth about sex education in Australia.

Too many Australian parents are avoiding open conversations about sex with their kids, effectively leaving the booming porn industry to educate their children about the fundamentals of sex education.

Sound alarmist? It’s not. As research from last year shows, children are getting information about sex from their peers, the internet or pornography. And if you’ve never Snapchatted before, trust me, you’re not in a position to comprehensively fill the gap.

That social media knowledge gap lit up like a Christmas tree in a recent media teacup storm about Twitter being decried as a ‘faux porn platform’ because it allows explicit material. The point that sailed past the writer like a ballistic missile was that Twitter – which has been around for over a decade – has always allowed explicit material and has always been open about it. This should have been no surprise to anyone.

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"Research shows children are getting information about sex from their peers, the internet or pornography." (Image: iStock)
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Panic like that goes to show that there are still adults out there who don’t know what is available in their own favourite microblogging site. And if Twitter’s too hot to handle, you’ve got some work to do to get your head around Tumblr!

It’s proof that times have changed. Sure, porn was around when we were kids. But it was an outdated magazine flashed around behind the bus shelter. Not high definition, misogynistic, face-slapping porn, which is often the first introduction to sex in this internet age.

There’s lots of research out there about when kids see their first porn. Some research suggests that many nine-year-olds have viewed porn online, while other research suggests it’s a year or two older, warning that it’s desensitising children. They’re just as likely to search for porn on the internet as to accidentally stumble across it online, the research found.

In one widely cited study, 42 per cent of internet users aged 10 to 17 admitted they had viewed porn online in the past 12 months. But that study is more than a decade old, before many children started carrying phones. And seriously, how many kids are going to admit to watching porn, anyway?

Renowned Australian child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg says that 80 per cent of children will have viewed violent pornography by the time they turn 15.

Think it’s impossible for your child to access porn? Think again. They’re viewing it on a sneaky app like Pornhub or iPad porn, or a friend has access to it.

Parents will also be alarmed to hear that one of the biggest porn aggregators in the world has just released their own sex education channel, saying they were concerned about the lack of knowledge about sex from their youngest porn viewers.

Pornhub is one of the most prolific adult websites, averaging 92 billion views a year, or about 12.5 porn videos per person on each, now teaching your children about sex. Parents should be horrified.

The Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center launched in February solely to educate young people about all things sex. The company wants young people to think of it as a one-step shop to facilitate their needs, be it comprehensive information on STIs and safe sex, the latest in sex tech or advice on how to approach a ‘friends-with-benefits’ arrangement.

On the latest episode of This Glorious Mess, Andrew Daddo learnt they’re not called condoms, they’re ‘things’. Post continues...

Viewing porn at such a tender age has significant ramifications on our young people, with the extent of the damage being done to kids currently being reviewed by the Federal Government. Kids see body hair as disgusting, which alters how they perceive their own pubescent bodies. They’re learning misleading and vulgar terms about sex. Aggressive anal sex and stunt sex is also seen as normal and even mandatory part of sex.

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Consent isn’t really understood, either, with a new survey by The Line revealing that one in five young people (12-20) think it’s completely normal for a boy to place pressure on girls to do sexual things. And only 22 per cent of respondents think the girl is responsible for making it very clear if she doesn’t want to have sex.

Of course, most well-intentioned parents want to pass on their own philosophies about relationships and sex, but many don’t know which words to use, or how to broach these conversations with their children. Other parents prefer to leave all sex education to the schools.

But you need to realise that there’s no national curriculum standard when it comes to sex education in Australian schools. A lot of the education material used in schools is supplied by religious organisations and has been dressed up to resemble medical brochures. They gaily spruik abstinence, which has been proven to drive up teenage pregnancy and STI rates because it’s simply dismissed by curious teens.

Research shows 80 per cent of children will have viewed violent pornography by the time they turn 15. (Image: iStock)

Accurate, balanced sex education is a basic human right. It helps young people reduce their risk of potentially negative outcomes and enhances their ability to develop sound decision-making skills. If their parents and close family are unapproachable, they’ll go somewhere else.

Sex education needs to be age appropriate and experts suggest it should start in early primary school. Sex education needs to be a series of honest and age-appropriate conversations that start as small children. It’s not about teaching kids how to have sex, but what’s off limits, and what to do if someone tries to touch you inappropriately.

Accept that there’s a real possibility that the rest of the world is communicating with your children and teens better than you are. Teach your child what they actually need to know, not what you want them to know.

Still not comfortable having the talk with your children just yet? I’d respectively suggest that the consumption of porn by pre-pubescent Australian kids has taken the right to choose the timing of sex education completely away from you as a parent.

Rowena Murray is Australia’s self-proclaimed sex fairy godmother and author of ‘For Foxes’ Sake- Everything a Fox Needs to Know About Sex’, written to educate parents about what they need to know about sex when broaching the subject with their kids.

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