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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
AUSTRALIA: Teachers Urged to Address Porn Factor
Denise Ryan
February 23, 2012
The Age (Melbourne) (02.13.12) - Thursday, February 23, 2012

A team of Australian researchers is updating sex education resources to address the widespread availability of online pornography and teens' exposure to it. The materials being developed are for universities that train sex education teachers and for schools.

Teachers must have the skills to address pornography, said Dr. Debbie Ollis, a sex education expert at Deakin University in Victoria. The idea of school lessons on the topic might sound controversial, but youths need to learn to think critically about pornographic representations of gender, sex, expectations, and consent, and to distinguish between what is depicted and reality, said Maree Crabbe of Brophy Family Youth Services, who is involved in the project.

A 2006 Australian study of youths ages 13-16 found 92 percent of boys and 61 percent of girls have been exposed to online porn. A 2003 survey found 84 percent of boys and 60 percent of girls have been accidentally exposed to such sites.

"Pornography is now our most prominent sex educator," said Crabbe. Under the "Reality and Risk" project, she and researcher Dr. David Corlett recorded 140 interviews with youths, academics, and porn industry workers that collectively suggest pornography both is widely accessed by teens and becoming more violent.

The interviews will provide footage for a documentary film, which is being funded by philanthropists and will be completed in a few months. Video clips also will be used for audio- visual resources for classrooms. The researchers are developing updated teaching materials for the popular "Catching On" curriculum, in which students will be presented with diverse scenarios to discuss.