In the face of new evidence of the increasing levels of children sexually abusing other children the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today called for both major political parties to immediately commit to a comprehensive review of the classification system across all media.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said the classification system is broken and that the lack of effective regulation of what is being viewed and read in the community must be acknowledged as at least part of the reason behind the appalling growth in sexualised and sexually abusive behaviour in children.

“Revelations by the Australian Crime Commission’s National Indigenous Task Force that between 40 and 90 per cent of sexual offending against children was committed by other children – and that the problem is not confined to indigenous communities – should deeply concern all Australians and demand an urgent response from our political leaders,” Mr Wallace said.

“There has been widespread acknowledgement of the role of the media environment in sexualising children but despite inquiries and talkfests, nothing gets done.

“Children don’t learn sexualised behaviour in a vacuum and we know that viewing pornography is often associated with this problem. However it goes much further than this, with children continually being bombarded with overtly sexual messages by everything from billboards to films to music videos. When the problem is getting this bad it is time for real action to be taken.”

Mr Wallace said a comprehensive review is needed because Australia’s classification system has not kept pace with technology and is effectively a toothless tiger even when standards are breached – with no real penalties for those involved.

“Growth in technology has meant that Australia’s classification system doesn’t even apply to a range of new media content, such as mobile phone applications. And where the classification system does apply it is completely ineffective – with standards rarely being enforced and the penalties being laughable even when they are.

“By way of example, Classification Board Chairman Donald McDonald told an Estimates Committee in May this year that since July 2009 he had ‘called in’ for classification 440 adult films and 40 adult magazines, but none of those notices had been complied with.

“This just highlights how irrelevant our classification system has become and the need to address a problem which is helping feed an epidemic of sexualised behaviour in children.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979