Private school principals get a lesson in porn. Sexuality educator Liz Walker (2016)

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August 24, 2016 - Link to article

Henrietta Cook

Victorian private schools are tackling a confronting issue.  

It's a topic that makes parents squirm, and they avoid discussing it with their children. And according to experts, it's having a devastating impact on young men and their attitudes towards women.

For the first time, Independent Schools Victoria will run a seminar on porn for principals and teachers.  

How do you deal with pornography?

For the first time, Independent Schools Victoria will next month host a seminar for principals and teachers examining why young people are driven to watch porn. It will also discuss the impact of pornography on relationships, and give teachers skills to discuss pornography with young people.

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It follows a spate of recent incidents where male students circulated offensive and graphic photos of females online.

A now former St Michael's Grammar student is being investigated by police over circulating naked photos of his female classmates, and last month, Brighton Grammar expelled two senior students who set up an Instagram account featuring photos of young girls and invited people to vote for the "slut of the year". A website which posted explicit photos of Australian schoolgirls is being investigated by the Australian Federal Police and was taken down last week.

Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said schools needed to consider some confronting questions about pornography.

"It's clear that  schools face a complex challenge in addressing an entrenched society-wide problem - the fact that some men and boys still engage in totally unacceptable and abusive behaviour towards women and girls," she said.

Ms Green said the seminar had been planned months ago, but was timely in light of recent incidents. "There's an emerging concern that this behaviour is influenced by access to pornography that portrays women in demeaning and degrading ways," she said.

She said schools were unable to tackle pornography by themselves. "It involves our entire community, including parents who need to be more aware of their children's online activity," she said..

The seminar will be run by psychotherapist Hugh Martin, a former porn addict who is the founder of Man Enough.

Mr Martin said pornography was a public health issue and had the potential to create the next generation of predators.

"Pornography is often brushed aside as something puerile, something that offends women, but it could create real perversion," he said.

"This will give schools the skills to have a discussion with students about what they are watching and let them know that it is not real, and this is not how consenting adults usually behave."

Sexuality educator Liz Walker said schools felt uncomfortable dealing with pornography.

"They have no idea what young people have access to. They know it's there but don't know what it is," she said.

Ms Walker – who is running a separate seminar for teachers on pornography at Deakin University on Friday – said pornography was having a dreadful impact on young people.

She said girls were suffering internal injuries and felt like they had to perform like porn stars, while men were experiencing high rates of erectile dysfunction.

"If that many people were hooked on cocaine there would be an uproar," she said. 

High school students will analyse pornography, sexting and raunchy music videos as part of an Andrews government's revamp of the school curriculum. The respectful relationships curriculum is designed to counter violence against women. 

A Senate inquiry is looking at the harm being done to children through online pornography and will finalise its report by December 1.