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Protecting Our Children

Mass Media Threaten Our Children

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

I have received several letters or e-mails in which people have asked me why we (i.e., Citizens for Families – Coalition for Community Standards) are working so hard to cover inappropriate magazine covers when children can see worse images in a more vivid way on television.

That's a good question. Part of the answer is that people have a choice in the walls of their homes regarding what their children see, but in a general goods store or grocery store checkout line, children often have no choice. They have foisted on them sexual titles or photographs which experts say they should have no exposure to until at least adolescence.

A mother called me to ask some questions about sexual addiction. I asked what had started the curiosity that moved her son into addiction. She said, “A magazine and its contents.” I hear this over and over from good people.

Another answer is that these sexual magazine covers break the national Harmful to Minors law. If we don't enforce that law, it will become moot and unenforceable and then anything is okay on our billboards and in our stores, etc.

To take care of the problem, we need to develop child-appropriate community standards. How? One important way is by speaking to the managers of our local stores and asking for covers. If we don't make requests, as well as thank the stores that are family friendly, the Harmful to Minors Law will become null and void. By not saying anything, we are telling store managers and sellers of magazines that the members of the community don't care. (See the law and its definition on my web site, www.strengthenthefamily.net. Scroll down under the section “Articles About Pornography.)

And what is the impact of TV? Mark Kastleman, author/researcher/speaker, stated that parents who let their children watch a lot of television are setting them up for sexual addiction. The media is also teaching them language patterns and values.

“Parents who wouldn't dream of letting a dirty-minded adult baby-sit their children do it every time they let their kids surf the channels. Not only we, but our children become desensitized to immorality,” said Randy Alcorn (“The Radical Path to Purity,” AFA Journal, September 2003).

Lindsey Tanner (Associated Press, Deseret Morning News, April 5, 2004) pointed out that very young children who watch television face an increased risk of attention deficit problems by school age. Studies, she said, show that TV might over-stimulate and permanently rewire the developing brain. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that youngsters under age two not watch television. Then she quoted Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a researcher at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, who said, “The truth is there are lots of reasons for children not to watch television. Other studies have shown it to be associated with obesity and aggressiveness. Problems, according to Dr. Christakis, include difficulty concentrating, acting restless and impulsive, and being easily confused.

Many studies indicate a propensity for addiction to video games as well as problems with violence, and introductions to pornography. According to the American Pediatrics Association's 2001 report on Media Violence, more than 3,000 studies have shown that exposure to violence in games and media affects children.

Now let me ask you, “Why is it that parents think other children may have these problems, but theirs can't be affected?

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