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Don't expel Melb porn students: expert

AAP logoAAP 10/08/2016 By Kaitlyn Offer

A leading sociologist says expelling Melbourne students caught sharing explicit material will not solve the problem, but talking more openly about pornography could help.

Male students from three elite Melbourne private schools have been caught in recent months sharing sexually explicit photos of female students and making videos rating their peers.

It was revealed this week that sexual crime squad officers interviewed a 16-year-old St Michael's Grammar School boy about the distribution of "inappropriate images".

Professor Johanna Wyn, director of Melbourne University's Youth Research Centre, says the "constant examples" of teens sharing sexual images is extremely worrying.

"Expelling one group of kids won't do anything really to solving the wider problem and it doesn't help these students get it right," she told AAP on Thursday.

Pro Wyn believes there needs to be a more open community discussion about pornography.

"This is not new and adults come to term with this and confront it - we need to have a more open debate on ethics in porn and how we treat each other," she said.

Teenage cyber sex expert David Kobler talks about respectful relationships at schools and works with technology company Family Zone to help parents control what their children view online.

He says pornography is having a huge impact on what adolescent boys, in particular, think about sex.

"Kids are getting devices at a younger and younger age and it's like walking them down a red light district and telling them not to look at anything," Mr Kobler told AAP.

Porn is often violent and degrading with little empathy for women, he said.

It can present men as being in positions of power that distorts teenagers' developing thoughts on sex.

James Brett Young, a senior solicitor at Shine Lawyers, says schools have a duty of care to provide safe environments that prevent disrespectful behaviour.

Schools where students are caught sharing explicit images could face legal action by victims, he said.

"Where these duties are breached and where loss and damage arises from a school's failures to uphold its responsibilities, the institution may be held liable for compensating those who've been harmed."

The lawyer said the likelihood of an action being brought comes down to "the extent of their knowledge and whether they could, or should, have done more to stop it".

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