Chief censor says New Zealand needs to do more to tackle porn problems

Stuff 13 April 2018
Family First Comment: Media coverage of our submission to the Select Committee earlier this week.

The chief censor says New Zealand needs to take a societal approach to tackling the pervasive effects of porn, including further regulation.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie is calling for an expert panel to better understand the breadth and nature of the health and social issues created by pornography, and how to tackle it.

More than 22,000 people signed McCoskrie’s petition, and this week he spoke to the Governance and Administration Select Committee at Parliament, where he said porn was “feeding the health crisis of the digital age”.

In 2017, there were 28.5 billion visits to the popular site Pornhub, and in 2015 New Zealand ranked fifth for the number of visits per capita.

New Zealanders spent an average of 9 minutes and 37 seconds on the site, and 35 per cent of Kiwis that visited the site were women – above the international average of 23 per cent.

The chief censor David Shanks and McCoskrie said a multi-tier, societal approach needed to be taken to better understand the extent of the issue in New Zealand, along with what harm was being done, and how best to tackle it.

McCoskrie said parents, like himself, were worried about how to deal with porn in an age when the internet is so ubiquitous, and anyone, including those under 18, could get easy access to porn.

In a 2017 stakeholder survey, called porn and young people in New Zealand, 95 per cent of youth organisations and sexual healthcare providers said pornography was an issue for young Kiwis.

The availability, affordability, and anonymity of the internet, meant what used to be considered “hardcore” porn was now mainstream,McCoskrie said

If New Zealand wanted to tackle societal attitudes and rape culture, it needed to better understand the implications of using porn.

And international research had correlated porn use with issues like increased sexual aggression and sexual entitlement, coercion, risky sexual behaviour, addiction and compulsive behaviour, and porn-induced erectile disfunction. However, it is contested whether porn use is the cause of these issues.

Shanks agreed with McCoskrie in that New Zealand needed to take a societal approach. That meant education, public messaging, getting internet service providers (ISP) on board, schools, and businesses. As well as amending the law.

“The picture that’s emerging is concerning,” he said.

“We don’t have a simple, single answer, but there are some reasonable things we can do.”
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