Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Parents go to school for lessons in the perils of porn

Australian sex educator Liz Walker. Photo / supplied
Australian sex educator Liz Walker. Photo / supplied

Kiwi students and their parents are set to be taught about the perils of porn in a new education programme.

At the end of the month, Brisbane-based sexologist Liz Walker will deliver explicit advice at the first New Zealand school to sign up to her three-day programme.

The private Auckland boys' school, which has asked not to be named, is the first of a number of Kiwi religious and secular schools to show interest in the course, which has been running in Australia for three years.

Walker's programme will be delivered to Year 5-13 students and their parents on November 28-30.

It features topics such as pornography, consent, rape and teen pregnancy.

Walker claims there is evidence children as young as 5 are consuming pornography on digital devices such as smartphones, causing sexualised behaviour which can damage them and their peers.

She has been working towards starting courses in New Zealand after reading about the Roastbusters case in 2013, where a group of young men posted videos of themselves online boasting about having sex with drunk, underage girls.

"I've been overwhelmed with the response to my work in New Zealand," Walker told the Herald on Sunday.

"Feedback shows that Kiwi educators have been alarmed about this growing societal problem for some time with no mechanism to fix it.

"I think the Counteracting Porn Culture workshops I gave to them earlier this year in New Zealand allowed them to feel they could correct it.

"But the next step is direct engagement with the kids caught up in this problem. They are the people I really need to speak to."

Karl Le Quesne, the Ministry of Education's head of early learning and student achievement, said the ministry was aware of Walker's courses.

A school may choose to use a variety of resources and programmes to supplement teaching and learning, he said.

"Sexuality education is part of the health and physical education learning area of the New Zealand Curriculum. This is an area of the curriculum where schools need to consult their communities."

He said after consultation, a school's board will decide how to cover the health curriculum, which includes sexuality education.

"Schools know their students best, so it makes sense for them, along with their communities to decide how sexuality education is covered," Le Quesne said.

To coincide with the launch of the course for students and parents, Walker is also launching her Porn Harms Kids initiative here, which is already successful across the ditch.

"This resource will offer great support to everyone as more New Zealand seminars and workshops kick off next year," she said. "Recently formed networks I made with leading organisations in the United States will also inform all the above work and provide better social and psychological outcomes for our young people."

- Herald on Sunday

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