Recently the Carey Senior School Quad was covered with red roses. It was a florist’s dream as the students organised the annual rose drive, with the Australian Heart Foundation becoming the beneficiary of the proceeds. The cynic can quite rightly point to the commercial drive that underpins ‘Valentine’s Day’. It seems the annual build to 14 February has now become a convenient space for marketers, sitting neatly between Christmas and Easter. On a positive note, the bombardment of advertising around this day can encourage us to take a moment to reflect on what exactly constitutes love. For some it may begin with the purchase of a rose that is given to the recipient anonymously. For others it may be a card with a red heart emblazoned on the cover and boldly handed to someone they admire. For others it is acknowledging our love through words, acts of kindness and respect.
Whilst it is apparent that marketers have built the profile of Valentine’s Day, it is equally clear that the liberal access to material on the internet has created confusion around the definition of love. Sadly, the internet provides easy access to pornography and a license to cause great harm.
Does pornography portray true love? Certainly not. It is tragic that we are seeing an increasing number of young people putting themselves at risk from pornography. At the click of a mouse, usually in their bedrooms, they are being exposed to images that can be X-rated, graphic, violent and distorted. What they see is cheap, empty and just as abusive for the participants as the purveyors. A leading educator in this area is Maree Crabbe. Maree’s research indicates:
- 90% of teenage boys have seen online pornography
- 60% of teenage girls have seen online pornography
- 88% of scenes of the most popular pornography include physical aggression
- 94% of aggressive acts are directed towards female performers
- About 30% of all internet traffic is pornography related
- Over 25% of young people have sent a nude image of themselves
- 42% of young people have received nude images of someone else
- 69% of sexually active young people have received nude images of someone else.
At Carey we recognise the benefits of computer technology, such as the ability to access information, communicate and learn. We also appreciate the dangers of such access and take these issues seriously. We have filters that block inappropriate material from entering our school’s ICT networks and student and staff computers. We educate students and their parents at information sessions before any iPad or computer laptop is handed to students at Years 5, 7 or 10. We provide strong guidance which is age and stage appropriate through our health classes and the Year 9 C-Change program. Our pastoral care teams provide confidential care to our students who need support, including those who may be troubled by what they have seen on the internet. Underpinned by our Baptist ethos, we provide a supportive environment where strong values are encouraged and role modelled, and where students know what it means to be a good citizen, both online and offline.
Carey continues to provide guidance to students, parents and staff about the perils of pornography and how to keep our young people safe and healthy. This supports our belief that at all times we want our students to maintain open, honest and respectful relationships with each other and the wider community.
Maree Crabbe continues to work with our students, staff and parents. All parents, irrespective of their children’s age, are encouraged to engage in a discussion with Maree at the next Carey Community Forum. This will be held on Thursday 21 March from 7.00pm to 9.00pm in the Ian Woolf Auditorium. Due to popular demand, entry is ticketed.