Assessing Causes and Outcomes of Exposure to Pornography and Sexualised Media: Preliminary Findings
by M. Ballantine-Jones and K. Oates
A survey on adolescent sexuality, wellbeing, and exposure to pornography was conducted in May-June 2018 on Year 10 students from 7 Sydney-based independent schools. This was performed by the first author (Ballantine-Jones) through the Medical School at the University of Sydney. The survey is part of a wider study on reducing the effects of exposure to sexualised media and pornography on adolescents. This survey will serve as a baseline for an upcoming school-based education pilot program.
A broad body of international research describes numerous negative outcomes from an adolescent’s exposure to pornography. At least 65 empirical articles reviewing the impact of pornography on adolescents have been published . Some of these effects include adapting attitudes of sexual objectification towards women and increased sexual aggression, increased positivity towards uncommitted sexual exploration, negative gender attitudes, compulsivity and addictive behaviours, reduced self-esteem, emotional stability, social empathy, social conduct, corrupted family and peer relationships, and increased sexualised behaviours on social media, including ‘sexting’.
Additionally, past research has offered clues as to the major influences behind an adolescent’s pornography engagement, including parental rules and communication, peer attitudes and behaviours, education programs, gender, age of first time exposure, and even religion.
Despite the well documented negative effects of pornography on adolescents, there are only a handful of school-based education programs that address pornography and sexualised media. These include In The Picture; Porn - what you should know; Sexting: social and legal consequences; We Need to Talk About Pornography; Catching On Later; and Building Respectful Relationships. None of these programs address the broad suite of negative effects, nor have they been empirically tested for effectiveness. Subsequently a new education program will be piloted and evaluated in conjunction with this survey.