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Protecting Our Children

MTV Peddles Smut to Children

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

As we look at what MTV offers, we must face the reality that television, movies and videos can teach positive values as well as negative values.

Dr. Victor Cline, who writes on the mass media's affect on values and behavior, said there is a danger in thinking that our good child-raising practices make children immune from harmful mediamessages. Children are indeed susceptible to sex and violence in media messages and forms.

Cline cited psychiatrist Frederick Wortham, who noted that all children are impressionable and therefore susceptible.

“We flatter ourselves if we think that our social conditions and family life and education and entertainment are so far above reproach that only emotionally sick children can get into trouble,” Dr. Cline writes. “As Dr. Wortham points out, if we believe that harm can come only to the predisposed child, this leads to a contradictory and irresponsible attitude on the part of adults. Constructive TV programs are praised for giving children constructive ideas, but we deny that destructive scenes give children destructive ideas.”

Congressman Joe Pitts (Republican-Pennsylvania) said: “The level of sex and foul language on MTV is far higher than anything found on adult-targeted television.”

On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Pitts said, “Mr. Speaker, it seems that Music Television plays a lot more than music these days. From reality TV to tasteless dramas, MTV has become one of cable's largest purveyors of smut. ... Children watching MTV view an average of nine sexual scenes per hour with approximately 18 sexual depictions and 17 instances of sexual dialogue or innuendo. In the rest of prime time television, the Parents Television Council found an average of only 5.8 instances of sexual content during the 10 o'clock hour.”

Only two-thirds of MTV's profanities are bleeped each hour. Every 60 minutes, nine un-bleeped profanities slide through to your child's ears. Promiscuity and drunkenness are glamorized.

How far-ranging is the damage to children? MTV is watched by 73 percent of boys and 78 percent of girls ages 12-19, according to the American Family Association Journal, April 2005 edition.

A study done by RAND last year shows that teens often adopt the sexual behaviors and attitudes forwarded by their favorite TV characters. Congressman Pitts says, “By glamorizing drug and alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and violent behavior, MTV lies to our kids.”

I was giving a presentation on sex respect at a junior high school recently. As I waited for the students to come in, I visited with the teacher, who was in the classroom. I asked, “What differences do you see in the youth as each year passes.”

The teacher replied: “Each year, as a group, they come with less respect and lower values.”

I was not surprised because I am aware of the influence of the media and the laxness of many parents on this issue.

Parents need to understand that we can make a difference in our homes with our children. We can teach values and we can turn off the television, eliminate most movies and limit time on carefully chosen videos and video games.


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