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Pornography: Support in Australia for compulsory age verification software on porn websites

Software forcing porn website users to verify their age has been introduced in Britain and cyber safety experts say similar laws could be used to protect Australian children.

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No need to feel powerless

Advocating for children and young people’s rights to a safe online environment is at times, challenging. Given there are so many different ways in which harmful content reaches our children, people often throw their hands in the air and cry there is nothing that can be done to uniformly block porn. The excuses come thick and fast from those most able to make change. Namely, politicians and tech companies (and of course, porn harms deniers). The reality is, however, that if we want our society to thrive, we cannot afford to do ‘nothing’.

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Pornography exposure and early sexualisation blamed for rise in student attacks

The sexualisation of children and their easy access to online pornography is helping drive a significant jump in student-on-student sexual and indecent assault allegations at school, a leading psychologist warns.

In NSW government schools alone, the number of alleged student-on-student attacks rose from 90 incidents in 2015 to 142 last year. In the first five months of this year, 87 allegations of sexual and indecent assault in primary and secondary schools involving students were made.

The figures, released under freedom of information laws, ­reveals the number of alleged ­incidents involving the very young is also increasing.

In 2015, there were two allegations of sexual assault involving NSW primary-school students on other students. This rose to 14 incidents last year, and seven allegations ­involving primary schoolers were made by May.

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Luke Howarth MP: The risk to children posed by easy access to online violent sexually explicit material

Luke Howarth - Federation Chamber - May 22, 2017

How is the Australian Government failing to protect children from online porn?

Liz Walker, Chair of Porn Harms Kids in Australia, speaks with Lyrella Cochrane from ABC Radio Darwin and the Northern Territory. We discuss what happens when children see hardcore online pornography, why it's a public health crisis, and how the Australian Government is failing to protect children from harms they openly acknowledge.

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Crossing borders – pornography’s mode of travel

If someone tries to bring a suitcase of Refused Classification (RC) DVDs through customs, they will be refused entry. Relating to sex, RC films: depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults. The RC definition also refers to Child Exploitation Material (CEM), or any films that promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence. With this in mind, if you plan on visiting your Federal MP to ask what they are doing to uphold their due diligence obligation towards children, we advise that you go armed with some pressing questions

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Australian Summit Against Sexual Exploitation

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The problem of sexual exploitation is enormous.
But at the same time, new opportunities to take back ground are emerging as societies around the globe recognise that what is needed to beat this insidious form of exploitation is a proactive, co-ordinated, multi-agency approach.
Now, more than ever, the growing movement to end sexual exploitation needs to work together to establish a new norm – a world free of all forms of exploitation.
The Australian Summit Against Sexual Exploitation on May 5-6 2017 brought together leaders from this movement, along with special guest speakers to equip, encourage and inspire. 
Liz Walker, chair of Porn Harms Kids, presented at the summit and her presentation is below. Liz speaks about the history and strategy of Porn Harms Kids, and how important your involvement is for the wellbeing of children.

 

We must take a public health approach to tackle porn culture

A public health lens informs the activities of the 3-pronged PREVENT – EQUIP – RESTORE approach taken by Porn Harms Kids. Given the extensive data available on the harms of pornography on children and young people – particularly related to the rise in mental health issues and preventable diseases such as Sexually Transmitted Infections, work must commence with prevention.

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Breaking news! Age-verification for porn sites to be implemented in the UK

After months of deliberation, Child Protection advocates are celebrating in the United Kingdom with new changes adopted into legislation. The UK have been taking active steps to protect children from online pornography harms, and at  3.15.p.m. on April 27, the Digital Economy Bill 2016-2017 was approved. The legislation creates civil penalties for online pornographers who do not verify the age of their customers, and ISP level blocking of non-compliant sites.

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Graphic hardcore images are an uncomfortable reality

In February 2016, I had the privilege of opening the Pornography and Harms to Children and Young People Symposium. The largest gathering of its kind in the southern hemisphere with the aim to spark a national conversation about the public health crisis caused by porn harms to children across Australia. I opened with this quote from the The Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls Report (2015):

The growing ubiquity of mobile devices means those targeted or indirectly implicated are getting younger and younger — with children as young as 5 or 6 years of age now exposed to cyberbullying and online pornography — sometimes of the most extreme kind. In some contexts online culture represents the worst form of gang violence.

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This is fact. Reality. This is the age our young people live in. And in every presentation I deliver, I start by saying that I make no apologies for offending anyone with what they see or hear, because the porn industry makes no apologies to our children. (These words are a ‘warning’ for what is contained in the rest of this news update.)

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I pledge to stand for…

  • A world where children can grow up without being psychologically harmed by accessing graphic, violent pornography online
  • Prevention of children’s access, given that porn is linked to increased risks of STIs and other harmful physical and relational outcomes
  • Higher standards for ISPs, tech and porn companies to implement technology-related child protection buffers to block harmful pornographic content
  • Adults, including the Australian Government, to exercise due diligence to protect children

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