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By Hilary White

February 3, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Boys who see pornography regularly are more likely to have sexual relations and harass girls in school, a new study has found. Michael Flood, a researcher with the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, said that exposure of children to pornography results in “a range of notable and often troubling effects.”

“Exposure to pornography,” Flood wrote, “helps to sustain young people's adherence to sexist and unhealthy notions of sex and relationships.”

Flood, an Australian sociologist at the University of Wollongong, said this applies especially among boys and men who use pornography frequently. With more violent materials, “consumption intensifies attitudes supportive of sexual coercion and increases their likelihood of perpetrating assault.”

“While children and young people are sexual beings and deserve age-appropriate materials on sex and sexuality, pornography is a poor, and indeed dangerous, sex educator,” he said. 

In October last year, the Australian government’s Institute of Criminology published a study that said the probability that a young person will be exposed to pornography before legal age “is very high.”

“Concern exists, among both parents and policymakers, that widespread, premature exposure to pornography is changing the nature of sexual attitudes, behaviours, and intimate relationships and potentially contributing to sexual violence in society,” wrote Judy Putt, the Institute’s general manager of research.

“The proliferation of pornographic materials and their ease of access are such that it is not a matter of whether a young person will be exposed to pornography but when.” Young people are being “inundated” with “sexual information,” Putt wrote, “before they are developmentally capable of integrating it into a healthy sexual identity.”

A 2003 telephone survey of 200 Australian young people aged 16 to 17 found that 73 per cent of males were exposed to pornographic videos, with 5 per cent exposed weekly and 16 per cent exposed every three to four weeks. The survey found that 84 per cent of males were  inadvertently exposed to pornography on the internet, with 38 per cent using internet pornography deliberately. This was compared with two per cent of females who use the internet to view porn. 

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