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Adolescence, Pornography and Harm

Adolescence, pornography and harmFull Article Name: Adolescence, Pornography and Harm

Open Access: Yes


The probability that a young person will have exposure to pornography prior to the age of 18 – the legal age in Australia at which it is permissible to view and purchase such materials – 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. The extent to which it is difficult to determine, owing to the scarcity of adolescent-based research and differing conceptions about harm. This paper examines the many factors that underpin pornography exposure, and stresses how the risk factors for exposure and problematic sexual behaviours intersect to contribute to harm. An understanding of the complex interplay of factors such as gender, age, attitude, personal characteristics and social context of use is important in the development of strategies that will assist young people to avoid any potential adverse outcomes. The available evidence remains highly incomplete, and its interpretation is highly contested, so the paper highlights the need for longitudinal studies of use and of actual behaviour, and for studies that focus on cultural contexts and emerging media.


Bryant, C. (2009). Adolescence, pornography, and harm. Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice (no. 368, February). Australian Institute of Criminology.


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