Children as young as 6 years old are watching porn online

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Children as young as six are watching internet porn, with one group linking the behaviour to sexual assaults in schools.

Centre Against Sexual Violence counsellor Kate McCormick said there appeared to be "a lot of sexual assault" occurring within the school environment.

"This has been linked back to early exposure to pornography," she said.

"From the age of six, some kids are accessing pornography online and that becomes their norm of how to treat people and how to do relationships.

"And of course when they become teenagers or start puberty, part of their experiment, what they think is OK, there's no boundaries around that - so you find them crossing over the line at school and sexual assault happening behind the toilet block, in the bush beside school, and quite serious sexual assaults."

Sex education is not compulsory in Queensland state schools, although schools have the option to teach it within the curriculum, with some hiring external providers.

Ms McCormick, who spoke at a parliamentary inquiry into improving respectful relationships and sex education in relation to technology in Queensland state schools, said consent and anti-violence messages should start at a young age.

She said victims could have nude photos of themselves circulated around their schools and as a result suffer poor grades, self-harming and suicide attempts.

Centre Against Sexual Violence counsellor Katrina Weeks said invasive and often violent portrayals of sex acts in porn sent harmful messages about gender.

"In the absence of effective school-based education, and despite often well-meaning efforts of parents and guardians, young Queenslanders are often being educated about how to be in a relationship, or to negotiate sexual relationships via inappropriate and or violent internet content," she said.

Ms Weeks said increasing numbers of school-aged children had contacted the centre complaining about victimisation on revenge porn sites, pressure to participate in or watch porn and repeated requests for sexualised photos over the past three years.

"The use of technology-assisted abuse, harassment and bullying is increasingly prevalent in Australia," she said.

"With technology, an abuser is able to isolate them very quickly ... A victim might be silent and less likely to seek help or disclose abuse if a perpetrated threatened to disseminate sexualised photographs of them."

Some women or young girls, including those with intellectual disabilities, had been tricked into meeting up with people who were not who they said they were, and then sexually assaulted, Ms Weeks said.

The centre runs an education program in schools called Love Bites.

True Relationships and Reproductive Health manager Claire Moran said some state schools were proactive in offering sex ed classes while others were not, or did not have the funding.

Dr Moran also said teaching young people about sex did not make them start having sex younger.

"What we know from research is, that teaching people about sex enables them to make better decisions, it actually delays the onset of sexual debut, it reduces unplanned pregnancies, it has positive outcomes," she said.

Dr Moran said taking a whole school approach across the curriculum to respectful relationships could be beneficial, including in subjects like history, where women's history could be invisible.

"It's positioning men as being very important and women as being a bit more insignificant," she said.

"But not looking at, perhaps, the politics or the history in terms of say the suffragette movement, or that women simply did not have the right to vote or were not allowed to pursue careers."

Dr Moran said other examples included only studying male authors in English or the vast majority of televised sport including male teams.

"It's all those opportunities within the curriculum to look at, well what does respectful relationships mean, and how do gender and power actually operate in society?" she asked.

"It's not something that's just taught at a theoretical level at class, it's what's actually being played out practically and students can actually see that."

This story Children as young as 6 years old are watching porn online first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.