Around the world, over 2000 people gathered across 9 nations towards the end of September 2019 to discuss the hidden epidemic created by online pornography. Community groups from Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Kuwait, Turkey, Pakistan, USA, New Zealand and Australia have gathered with the single aim to create awareness and discussion around the undeniable harms facing families from pornography’s impact.
Spearheaded by Wael Ibrahim of the AWARE Academy, parents, psychologists, psychiatrists, sexologists, academics and advocates from diverse cultural backgrounds united for one cause—to break the shame and silence about the health and relational harms created by pornography, with a particular focus on children and youth.
Australia’s line up of speakers flew in from the United States, Brisbane and Perth, attracting guests from Sydney, Melbourne, regional Australia and as far afield as New Zealand.
Renowned academic Dr Michael Flood provided robust evidence on how pornography is one risk factor, among many, for sexual violence perpetration; and was clear about the ways in which pornography is both a sexist and unhelpful educator.
Liz Walker, Deputy Chair of eChildhood and founder of Youth Wellbeing Project, drove home the realities of prevalence rates of kids accessing pornography, with research finding that 65.5% of boys and 30% of girls view pornography by the age of 12 years old—most content is violent and aggressive in nature.
Walker also highlighted strategies and resources to assist parents and educators to have important but tricky conversations. Executive Director of eChildhood, Tamara Newlands, shared what is being done in Australia to address this issue from a public health perspective, including the possibilities of Age Verification to reduce children’s access.
Presenter, Gabe Deem, was among the first in the world to blow the whistle on porn’s harms on young men’s sexual function, after suffering from porn induced erectile dysfunction at the age of 23.
Monthly, 15,000 people of all ages access the support of Reboot Nation, a self-help forum founded and managed by Deem. Another forum site, NoFap, attracts around 500,000 users every month and similar sites attract millions in countries such as Japan.
Deem’s message of how porn potentially conditions users’ brains to porn-induced extreme themes—and may result in reduced capacity to function sexually with a partner—has never been more important for the myriad of emerging young porn consumers.
Dr Rob Weiss had also attended the event and was more focused on adults use of pornography and the difference impacts that porn could have on them versus on children.
The event was concluded by Wael Ibrahim who emphasised on the importance of prevention better than cure, in the sense that we must raise an awareness, not only about pornography, but also on any irresponsible media that could lead to this trap.
Attendees were provided with solid strategies to support kids through this cultural war and were inspired to speak up about pornography for the sake of the well-being of families and communities.
The Aware conference had the support of Australian Registered Health Promotion Charity, eChildhood, along with sponsorship from Safe4Kids, Youth Wellbeing Project, Seeking Integrity, Human Appeal and Reboot Nation.
Communities wanting similar events organised in their region can contact Wael Ibrahim from Aware Academy.