Is it time we talked? – Pornography and Young People

May 31, 2017

‘Pornography’ and ‘young people’ are not words we like to see in the same sentence. It’s not a topic that makes for easy conversation, nor is it a topic that we are well-equipped to tackle. In the second Wellbeing Series lecture for 2017, researcher, social commentator and documentary producer Maree Crabbe stood firmly in front of a full audience in the Old Boys Lecture Theatre to ask ‘Is it time we talked?’

“Porn is having an impact on the lives of young people – from those who seek it out to those who don’t’, said Ms Crabbe. 90 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls have been exposed to it in some form, according to a survey taken in 2013 and not only this, due to its prevalence in mainstream popular culture, it’s increasingly becoming the main sex educator for young men and women.

“Porn is not new, it is not the first time young people have been exposed to porn, but porn has changed”, argued Ms Crabbe. Having produced two documentaries about the porn industry, she showed interview footage that illustrated the aggression, abuse and depravity that is now prevalent in mainstream porn. It showcased a fertile industry unwilling to stop and eager to push boundaries. 

“88% of scenes include physical aggression, 48% verbal aggression, 94% of cases include violence towards women including degradation.

“Pornography conveys deeply problematic issues to do with body image, pleasure, negotiating consent, gender, power and aggression”, said Ms Crabbe. It misrepresents male and female sexual relations and sells sex short.

Ms Crabbe wants schools and communities to break the cone of silence around this tricky issue because “one of the most compelling reasons to address pornography’s impact is that it is a driver of violence against women”, she said.

“It eroticises the key driver of violence against women – it eroticises inequality. And it changes the way we understand who we are. Who women are, who men are”.

So what can parents and educators do to combat some of these pressing concerns? 

Ms Crabbe had some advice.

    1. LIMIT young peoples exposure to porn
    2. EQUIP and encourage young people to critique what they see
    3. HELP young people to develop skills to resist porn
    4. INSPIRE young people to have better relationships and to seek something beyond porn.

“We need to have the conversations that show young people that relationships can be so much better than porn” said Ms Crabbe.

For more resources on how you can broach the topic of porn with your son and have a meaningful conversation, visit the website Is it time we talked? As a College with a student body who are doing something about gender inequality and domestic violence, the boys have already spoken up. Let’s join the conversation.