30 May 2024

Addressing pornography

Heads of SchoolSenior School
Addressing pornography
Addressing pornography
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‘Let’s talk about sex for now, to the people at home or in the crowd, it keeps coming up anyhow, don’t be coy, avoid or make void the topic cause that ain’t gonna stop it!’ – Salt-n-Pepa

Young people are searching and looking at pornography for so many reasons. They are curious, they want to explore further, they are hearing people talking about it (especially online and in a language we have never seen before), their hormones and bodies are telling them it is interesting and they are excited about it. Now, with the internet as a basic addition to general life in western societies and smartphones firmly attached to a young person’s hand, pornography has become the main sexual education for young people.

We can promote our courses, programs and initiatives at Carey while continuing to emphasise the importance of consent, but at the end of the day, the students are watching porn with no censorship and no guarantees of safety or standards that we as a society deem appropriate. So, the question beckons: what can we do?

Firstly, we can address pornography: we can’t delete it, we can’t keep avoiding it. People will find a way to watch it. There are 28.5 billion visits to Pornhub each year and 25% of all internet searches relate to porn. We need to educate our young people that porn can often be unrealistic and portray sex and relationships in a harmful way, which means we need to discuss the difference between real-life intimacy and fiction.

At Carey, like all Victorian schools, we teach modules of the Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships learning program, part of which involves age-and-stage-appropriate sex education. Consent is addressed in various forms and rights and responsibilities clearly outlined, as well as the issues mentioned above. The comprehensive program will be delivered next term, but it also needs to be addressed within the family.

As Salt-n-Pepa sang, sex is a good thing and we should also be talking about the connections it brings. It should be enjoyable and enthusiastically consensual, and it should also be acknowledged that sexual experiences and preferences are unique and all are different. Reliable, insightful and age-appropriate resources give the students the ability to explore and learn more about sex, relationships, intimacy and building empathy on their own terms. Recommended books and websites that provide positive information about sex need to be promoted – email me if you would like a list of websites as a starting point, or check out the SchoolTV Report on Pornography.

We are hoping in our sessions next term we can provide an environment in the Senior School where greater student voice is allowed and shared to further discuss these matters.

Secondly, we can consider what we can do outside the classroom, such as creating supportive environments and being aware of where and what type of environment their children are going to when they go out.

Parents must also create an environment within the household where children can ask questions, where respectful and loving relationships are espoused, and we also need to teach young people to be able to set boundaries. We at Carey share a code of conduct in our Senior School handbook which has been designed to support and protect all students in a healthy and positive manner. We all need to support students to be able to feel comfortable in their own skin and be proud of who they are. We also need to promote and speak more of the positive role models in society and not be influenced by many of the sensationalist and shock tactic influencers.

We all know the old saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Pornography is one of those issues where everyone has a part to play. We need to start with acknowledging, as a community, that porn is readily available and it is time to talk about it.

Christian Gregory
Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing


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