The sexualised media environment and a curtailing of childhood are partly to blame for the tragic increase in young WA girls having abortions, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said today.

ACL West Australian Director Michelle Pearse said that Australia's broken classification system is linked to the premature sexualisation of children which is in turn linked to teenage and childhood pregnancy.

“Children are continually being bombarded with overtly sexual messages by everything from billboards to films to music videos,” Mrs Pearse said.

“How can we expect young people to make good choices about their sexuality when they are confronted with highly sexualised images and messages every day?

“The pornification of our culture creates an entitlement mentality in men and boys which contributes to the pressure on girls to provide sex.

“It is high time that we recognised that the classification system is broken and that bipartisan commitments are given for a comprehensive review of the classification system across all media.”

Mrs Pearse said she hopes that the WA Government’s plan to improve sex education in schools gives focus to values, self respect and the benefits of abstinence.

“The problem of childhood pregnancy goes far deeper than the issue of contraception. Shadow Child Protection Minister Sue Ellery has told the media that teens need to know about contraception, but what about teaching kids how to be kids and handing back their childhoods which are meant to be enjoyed and not compromised by engaging in sexual activity far too early?”

Mrs Pearse agreed that it's important to teach children and teens about contraception but said that this should not be the primary focus.

“The primary focus should be teaching children and teens the dangers of engaging in sexual activity too early - these dangers include physical as well as emotional harm. Another focus should be on teaching children and teens how to process the highly sexualised images and messages they are presented with through the media.”

“An improved set of standards in our media combined with a values-based approach to sex education would contribute a great deal to enabling children to enjoy the freedom to simply be kids.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979