TODAY |

Out of the shadows – why it’s time to talk about porn

Online porn is teaching young Kiwis about sex – and it’s not pretty.

Much of it is graphic, violent and degrading. And yet, for some young people, it’s their main source of sex education.

Talking about porn is awkward, so it’s a topic that many families avoid. It’s taboo. Uncomfortable. It can even be shameful.

But in recent months, social issues around sex have come into sharp focus.

The 1 NEWS team has reported on New Zealand’s terrible rate of sexual violence, our poor understanding of consent, the rise of sexting, and the #MeToo movement.

The missing piece of this puzzle is – porn.

We want to explore how porn is influencing young people’s real-life behaviour. At TVNZ, we reckon it’s time to start that conversation.

Our news and current affairs programmes are about to spend a week exploring the influence of porn.

Beginning with a major SUNDAY investigation, we’ll take you inside the porn industry and see how it’s shaping our culture and our relationships.

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Pornography is teaching Kiwi kids about sex – and it’s not pretty. Sunday investigates the rise of online porn and the impact it’s having. Source: Sunday

Then, across the week, you’ll see feature stories about Kiwis who’ve been affected by porn.

And we’ll learn how parents and teachers can have healthy conversations with kids about sex and relationships.

Media coverage of porn has often been framed as a ‘moral panic’. That’s outdated and unnecessary. And it’s not our approach.

Instead, we’re exploring the facts – and they’re pretty sobering.

Porn often provides young people with distorted and damaging views about intimacy – and their own bodies.

And porn addiction is affecting many young men, even causing erectile dysfunction.

Health officials report that some young people are seeking help for injuries sustained during incredibly rough sex.

The Chief Censor’s office has commissioned a major survey on Kiwi teens’ porn use – due to be released in December.

Our Government will then look at whether it can regulate the use of porn. That’s what the Minister for Children, Tracey Martin, wants to do.

This is new, uncharted territory. There’s not much local research about porn use. And there are so many different views on what role it should play in our culture.

But there's one thing everyone agrees on – education is important.

For young people to express their sexuality in a safe way, they need to be able to talk about it with people they trust.

That’s what our series aims to achieve – healthy conversations.

Because keeping this taboo topic in the dark just isn’t working.

Where to get help:

Lifeline - 0800 543 354, free text 4357
Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234
Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865
Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757 free text 4202
Kidsline - 0800 54 37 54
The Lowdown - free text 5626
Rape Crisis - 0800 883 300
OUTLine - 0800 688 5463

For parents wanting to have conversations with their kids about porn, visit The Light Project or the Classification Office.

TVNZ’s coverage of ‘The Porn Problem’ begins on Sunday 4 November at 7.30pm on TVNZ1 and you  can follow the whole series here as it develops.

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Jehan Casinader has led a Sunday investigation into how internet porn is changing young people’s views of sex. Source: Breakfast