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Protecting Our Children

‘Just Once' can be More than Enough

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

“It's no big deal. Just once won't matter. It's just a concert (or movie or video or video game.) Just this once.” When we look at various scenarios in which inappropriate behavior is excused, we learn that “once is a big deal.”

One little boy, age 7, said to me. “I have trouble going to sleep at night because pictures from a movie I saw keep coming up in my mind.”

I am aware of a five-year-old girl who was shown inappropriate pictures from a magazine that her older sister picked up at a supposedly family friendly store. She cried at night because she couldn't forget the pictures that she had seen.

When I have spoken to youth, I have often used a bottle of juice. Everyone wants it until I pour “a little bit” of Pine Sol in it. Yes, a little bit makes a difference.

I have a friend who is in a prison now. He's been there awhile and I understand he's served there in a special way, teaching cellmates about truth. He'll soon be out. I'll bet he has a message for us all, and I'll bet it is, “Once is a big deal.” Entry into the drug world so often begins with the reasoning of “only once.”

A man suffering from a pornography addiction said, “Stay away from it. I would rather have my hand hit with a 16-pound sledge hammer than go through what I have gone through.” Since he had first viewed pornography as a 10-year-old- boy, his life has been controlled by it, he said. He was dismissed from responsibilities he had with his church, has been married seven times and has lost contact with five of his six children. He progressed from pornography to sexual abuse and is registered as a sex offender. This man said, “When you go down the wrong road it is quicksand; the more you do the more you want. . . and the harder it is to stop. Never do once what you don't want to do all the time,” is his advice. “Avoid the opportunity; remedies come too late. There is absolutely no way to get a picture out of your mind once it is there.”

We need to be aware of the possible problem of our children/teens idolizing teen entertainers. As I have watched the Brittany Spears saga, I would offer a word of warning to parents. What Brittany appeared to be at first and what she has become are two different things. Now Lindsay Lohan, who families loved in “The Parent Trap,” seems to be following a similar path. Although she is scheduled to star in a sequel to the l968 Disney classic, “The Love Bug” this summer, her choice of parts in other avenues of entertainment are not what most of us would want our children/teens to exemplify.

A respected adult can become a viable role model. Hopefully, loving mothers and fathers will be models for children. We can't erase images and ideas in the minds of our children. Perhaps for some youth, one exposure at a concert can open a door we don't want open. Once can be a “big deal.”

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