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Protecting Our Children

Are We Ignoring What is Happening to Our Children?

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

Ninety-five percent of our children under 10 have seen pornography! Where do they see it? Often in grocery store checkout lanes. And does it affect them? Of course it does. Pictures teach. It is difficult for adults to comprehend because none of us saw as children what our children have already seen.

And what do inappropriate pictures teach? They make deviant things seem okay. They desensitize, they teach dress standards and they tease and tantalize little boys who are often then encouraged to see more. Dr. Matthew Hedelius, who specializes in sexual addiction, asked an audience: “Why do you think there is more bulimia, more anorexia, and more depression among junior high and high school girls? It is because they went through grocery store checkout lanes as three-, four- and five-year-olds, and they were taught by sexual magazines.” A child believes everything they see up until age eight, according to the National American Pediatric Association, (Media Violence, November, 2001) Because these children were taught by sexual pictures what they should look like, when they move into puberty and do not look like those pictures, they are often not satisfied with themselves. Statistics regarding self-esteem in junior high girls goes down and continues to go down throughout high school.

Little boys are taught what is supposedly beautiful. Experts say that sexual awareness should not occur until at least adolescence. Some little boys have sexual awareness wake up in these stores. Dr. Hedelius works with some of these children.

Dr. John Harmer, an attorney who worked against pornography in California for 36 years, pointed out that if a magazine were rated at 100 because it had nothing offensive for children, some magazines 20 years ago would be rated about an 80. Today those same magazines would be rated at less than a 15. In other words, our children are being exposed to much more explicit material just in grocery store checkout lines.

All of us have recognized the influx of sexual material in movies, videos, video games, posters, etc., but most families think that their family is not affected. Columnist Ellen Goodman describes the perplexing attitude that prevails today as the “I'm okay, but you're not” syndrome. Millions of people seem to believe that moral values in America are declining, but not in their family, according to Michael Medved ("Hollywood vs. America," p. 96). We all need to recognize, as Dr. Meg Meeker says, that the media is aggressively selling sex and sexual freedoms to our children.

I wonder whether we are being careful enough about what we are allowing our children to be exposed to. Dr. Meeker, in her book, "Epidemic," states, “You wouldn't give a 3-year-old a 500-piece puzzle, for instance. . .. Why, then, when that same child turns 10 …would a parent let 8-year-olds watch television programs that aren't even appropriate for high school seniors?” She goes on to say that she thinks one problem is that parents sometimes run out of energy. Other times, they mistakenly assume that their kids' minds mature as quickly as their bodies. She says parents assume that their children/teens can handle messages like they do.

Let's take a look at what our children are seeing that is not consistent with our core values. In our next article, we'll discuss desensitization and what we can do to help protect our families from values that the media, Internet, and video games, etc. would teach them.

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