(L) Online pornography is leading to more sexual assaults by young men in NSW, police say (2014)

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LIA HARRIS  (link to article)

The Sunday Telegraph - October 12, 2014

Online pornography is causing sexual assaults by young men to almost double in five years.

EASY access to online pornography has caused sexual assaults by young men to almost double in five years, police have warned.

Men up to the age of 25 are finding it increasingly difficult to develop respectful relationships and have become increasingly violent towards their sexual partners, according to NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch.

Court statistics show the number of males aged between 10 and 29 convicted of sexual assault in NSW has almost doubled in the past five years, from 70 convictions in 2008 to 140 in 2013.

While attacks for all age groups have soared, the figures are most disturbing in boys aged between 10 and 17, with 27 convicted of sexual assault last year, compared to none in 2008.

Mr Murdoch said a recent incident involved a 16-year-old boy who regularly had sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend without her consent.

When questioned, the boy said he did not realise it was a crime. His victim said the same thing.

“Pornography is very accessible and even if parents put filters on, their internet access is everywhere, you can even go to your local library or a friend’s house,” Mr Murdoch said.

“There’s a growing tendency for young men not to have any idea of what a respectful relationship is with young women.

“The whole idea of consensual sex has gone out the window.”

Mr Murdoch said while the figures were concerning, they did not fully reflect the severity of the issue because many sexual violence offences went unreported.

He also said police understood males between the ages of 15 and 25 were the biggest users of online pornography, even accessing it on their mobile phones.

White Ribbon Australia’s community attitudes survey, which asked young people about their perceptions of domestic and sexual violence, found more than 40 per cent of respondents believed rape resulted from men not being able to control their desires.

Police are concerned easy access to online pornography is making young men more violent towards their sexual partners.

The survey also found one in five believed domestic violence could be excused if the perpetrator lost control out of anger.

White Ribbon policy and research group chairman Michael Flood said many young men still justified rape by blaming the victim.

“Young people are still much too willing to blame the woman when she’s assaulted,” Dr Flood said.

“A high proportion of young Australians think rape results from men not being able to control their need for sex. Pornography is a huge influence.”

White Ribbon CEO Libby Davies said there had been an increase in young men imitating violent sexual acts.

“We know there’s been an increase in violent acts that are shown on pornographic websites,” she said.

Macquarie University Professor Catharine Lumby, who studies the sexual behaviour of young people, said while pornography could encourage already violent boys and men to assault women, it was unlikely to be the cause of sexual violence.

“It has been an epidemic for decades and very much predates the internet,” Professor Lumby said.

“There are plenty of young men and women accessing online pornography who are then not going on to assault and harm people.

“It is mainly acquired from their families and their social environment.”


 

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN

* Ensure all devices in the home, including tablets and smartphones, are equipped with PIN numbers they do not know
* Consider installing parental lockout or monitoring software on your home computer to keep an eye on their internet usage
* Ensure their internet usage only happens in common areas of the house, such as the lounge room or kitchen area
* Set time limits for internet usage
* Be aware that public Wi-Fi may not have controls in place
* Educate them about appropriate internet usage

ONLINE PORNOGRAPHY LAWS

* It is illegal for internet content providers within Australia to ‘broadcast’ internet pornography classified as MA15+ to R18+ unless it is subject to an age verification system
* Age verification systems are often very easily navigated by underage people because determining the age of an internet user is virtually impossible
* Accessing child pornography and bestiality pornography is illegal under all circumstances and is actively monitored by authorities