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Casualness about Magazines Displayed Puts Our Children At Risk.

by JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

Our childrenís first lessons about sexuality are being taught by the managers of grocery stores as they display magazines that are inappropriate for children to see. Is this who we want to have teach them about sexuality? People in other communities do not allow it because they telephone or speak directly to managers and make them aware that this is not good for their children. They politely and nicely state that this standard is not what they want in their community. They explain that soft core pornography is the worst form of pornography because it introduces it to their children. If enough people speak out, they get results.

The Kroger Co. of Cincinnati, with 2,200 stores in 31 states told Morality in Media that it would introduce a blinder rack policy for Cosmopolitan magazines in all of its stores and they said they would monitor other magazines. The Philadelphia area Genuari supermarket chain, which has 33 stores, announced in February, 2000, that it would put blinders in all of its checkout lanes and magazine aisles to block offensive magazine covers and headlines. These store owners and managers recognized that their displays were hurting children and families and so they made a change. I believe that if our owners and managers understood the problem, they, too, would cover their magazines.

There are getting to be more and more inappropriate pictures and actual nudity in some of these magazines. Our indifference has made this possible. If we allow it, it will get even worse. More womenís magazines include sexual articles, sexual advertisements and pictures to illustrate. Any clerk can tell you how the youth run to local stores when the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit edition comes out. By allowing this pervasive element in our community we are setting our children up for future problems. By saying nothing to store managers, we are accepting this as our community standard.

A recent survey found that 75% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies and plastic surgeons are seeing an increase of teenage girls coming to their office so that they can look like the ideal model. The base of this situation is that our young girls as little girls are getting their identity from the pictures displayed in magazines in grocery store lines and our young boys are subtly being introduced to pornography. Seeing these pictures makes it easier for children to accept the pornography they are approached with in other aspects of their life. Grocery stores open this door when they display magazines that flaunt sexual pictures.

Before going back east to the National Pro-family Conference I thought there was nothing we could do about it. Back there I learned that there are whole communities that do not even sell "Cosmopolitan." They want to protect their children, and so they speak out on this issue and donít allow it to even be sold. They cover magazines like Glamour, Redbook and Mademoiselle that play up sexually lurid headlines. Pittsburgh is working on this with a campaign called "Take the Garbage Out!" San Diego is also working on this, as are other areas across the country.

A national opinion poll conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide in September 1999 found that 73% of Americans thought such headlines "inappropriate," and 60% favor a store policy of covering up these headlines, or not displaying them at checkout counters where children can see them every time their parents shop. Among women, the percentages were 81% and 64%, respectively, and women do most of the grocery shopping.

Dr. Victor Cline stated that there are those who say that people are not affected by what they read and see. That denies the whole notion of education. "At the very least, pornography educates. If you regard pornography as a form of sex education, then you would have to label most of it miseducation because it presents and models so much scientifically inaccurate, false, and misleading information about human sexuality." (Dr Victor B. Cline, professor emeritus at the University of Utah and clinical psychologist. "Pornography Has Consequences," Morality in Media, Inc. 475 Riverside Drive, New York, N.Y. 10115.) Dr. Cline went on to say that pornography "disassociates sex from love, affection, responsibility and relationship. Thus if we examine just its educative impact it presents us with some grounds for concern."

We must explain this to the managers of stores in order to protect our children. Feel free to show this article to them if that helps you approach them on this issue.

Please write me at 1075 East Center and let me share the positive things that are happening as we establish "family friendly" check out lines. I would love to give recognition to stores who are "family friendly."

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