Wellington College Incident Is Evidence Of Pressing Need For Action On Porn Harm

Media Release 8 March 2017
Family First NZ says that the example of Wellington College students posting offensive comments on social media relating to rape and consent are the tip of the iceberg, and that this incident highlights the pressing need for experts to formally investigate the public health effects and societal harms of pornography. 

“Social scientists, clinical psychologists, biologists and neurologists are now beginning to understand the psychological and biological negative effects of viewing pornography both online and through the media and video games. They show that men and younger males who view pornography regularly have a higher tolerance for abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression, and sexual promiscuity. Prolonged consumption of pornography results in stronger perceptions of women as commodities or as ‘sex objects’,” says Mr McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. 

“There are two major issues that our country must confront sooner than later. The first is the link between the regular and increasing consumption of online pornography and our unacceptable rates of sexual violence. The second, which many parents are very concerned about, is the effect of pornography viewing on younger people and its easy availability – even when children are not actively seeking it.” 

Researchers from a number of disciplines have shown that viewing pornography is associated with damaging outcomes. A recent meta-analysis of 22 studies between 1978 and 2014 from seven different countries concluded that pornography consumption is associated with an increased likelihood of committing acts of verbal or physical sexual aggression, regardless of age. A 2010 meta-analysis of several studies found “an overall significant positive association between pornography use and attitudes supporting violence against women.” It also places unacceptable pressure on young girls which leads to eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, depression, and other harms 

In a study of U.S. college men, researchers found that 83% reported seeing mainstream pornography, and that those who did were more likely to say they would commit rape or sexual assault (if they knew they wouldn’t be caught) than men who hadn’t seen porn in the past 12 months. In a study of young teens throughout the southeastern United States, 66% of boys reported porn consumption in the past year; this early porn exposure was correlated with perpetration of sexual harassment two years later.  

“These studies all highlight the extent to which porn is a public health crisis rather than a private matter, and its infecting its way in to the hearts and minds of our young people,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

“If we want to tackle sexual violence and the type of attitudes that have fueled the Facebook posts causing concern at Wellington College, we must first admit the role that pornography plays and the harm that it does to attitudes and actions.” 

The petition states: “That an expert panel be appointed to investigate the public health effects and societal harms of pornography to both children and adults, and to make policy recommendations to Parliament.”
The website is www.porninquiry.nz
ENDS