TODAY |

Education, not bans, the answer to school students trying to access porn - Netsafe


Sex education or pornography specific education is needed at a younger age as children have a growing access to adult material online, an expert says.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker talks about the issue after damning statistics on children accessing the content. Source: Breakfast

Reports show 300,000 searches for pornographic material were blocked on school networks in a one-month period, but Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker doesn't think an outright ban is the answer.

"Access to pornography is an issue but if we do some other things around children we can reduce the issue," Mr Cocker said.

"So educating them about what pornography is would be a great start rather than just relying on banning or blocking because that's very difficult to do all the time."

He said education at a young age is needed as access to online content is made more available to children, with research showing a quarter of children under 12 have seen porn.

Young children often found the content distressing or disturbing, and for older children it could be distorting of what a healthy sexual relationship is.

"Whether it needs to be sex education or whether it needs to be specific about pornography is a question we need to answer," Mr Cocker said.

"I think everybody recognises we've got to do something, it's just that technical interventions are very difficult. Yes the (the network which runs in schools and filters all school sites) is doing a good job on the school networks, but generally young people can access it fairly easily."

In the UK an age verification system is in the works, but Mr Cocker said is consistently being pushed back because it is difficult to do technically.