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It is more than twelve months since the federal government’s release of the Age of Innocence Report recommending age verification for Australian porn sites - to protect children from harm.

Young people are increasingly accessing or being exposed to pornography on the internet, associated with a range of harms to young people’s health, education, relationships, and wellbeing.

Research by Telstra in 2015 showed more than two thirds (68 per cent) of children aged three to 17 own a smartphone and spend an average of nearly 22 hours a week on the devices.

Michael Flood, the Australian academic said, “Pornography is becoming a primary sex educator for boys and young men, displacing explanations from parents, formal instruction in schools, and even conversations with peers. However, what they learn from pornography websites is kinky practices which strip sex of intimacy, loving affection, and human connection. And they learn that women are always ready for sex and have insatiable sexual appetites.”

Recent reports include: a seven-year-old boy dragging female students into the toilets and forcibly removing their clothes before sexually abusing them; a four-year-old who has to be chaperoned at all times because of his “sex games” with other children; treatment services reporting a rapid rise in children sexually abusing other children with some as young as four being referred to programs for problem behaviour; a six-year-old girl traumatized after seeing porn; and teenage girls pleading for a crackdown on online porn after a deluge of requests from boys for naked photos.

Most popular porn contains physical aggression towards women. Boys addicted to pornography grow up with little respect for females and can become violent partners and husbands, or even predatory criminals.

The Age of Innocence Report noted that there are now a range of age-verification services available which can balance internet effectiveness and ease-of-use with privacy, safety, and security, and that we need to see that age restrictions in the physical world also apply in the online world. It said that age verification can create a significant barrier to prevent young people—and particularly young children—from exposure to harmful online content.

Age verification would force those wanting to access online pornography to prove that they are over 18 years of age.

Government’s responsibility is to protect. Age verification is a good step towards a cleaner internet. The federal government has the power to implement the change, however, despite the vast quantity of evidence provided to it, and the report’s findings, it has not acted.

We need an official response followed by progress towards age-verification.

Please take these simple steps to contact your federal MPs and tell them to act.