Are You Harmed By Graphic Sex and Violence? Are Your Kids?
Far too few people are concerned about the saturation of graphic sex and violence that has become common in our culture. Images that were once considered pornography are now teased by middle school kids. Technology has made almost certain that by the time a child leaves elementary school he or she will have seen many sexually and violently explicit images.
Take for example a video aired in Sweden aimed at kids between the ages of 3 and 6. The video shows a dancing penis (named Willie) and vagina (named Snippan) in a light-hearted cartoon. Some of the lyrics of the song that accompany the video include:
“Here comes Willie at a run, he has no pants. Even on an old woman, the vagina is sitting there so elegant. The vagina is awesome. Yes it is!”
Lest any person watching the video should have any doubt that this is indeed a penis and vagina, the cartoonish images appear in their anatomically correct positions of a male and female image.
But why? Why would any television channel find it necessary to air such a video for children so young? When angry parents responded that the station had gone too far or that their kids would no longer be watching, the company responded:
“Our program is based on questions from the kids and we have received lots of questions about Willie and Snippan…For children, it is quite natural, as any body part. And in each program, we also do a song. We hope that this song will help to make it easier for parents to talk about Willie and Snippan with their children, there is a pedagogical purpose to it.”
In other words, “we want to make sure you are talking to your kids about sex between the ages of 3 and 6 because we think you should be.”
Apparently some have taken it upon themselves to determine when, and how parents are to discuss sex with their kids. No longer is it good enough to simply encourage parents to talk to their kids, now their hand will be forced. For the good of the children, of course.
Have you ever noticed that many ideas and philosophies advanced in recent years are done “for the children”? Explicit sex education beginning in Kindergarten is “for the children.” Handing out free condoms and birth control to students in middle school is “for the kids.” Making sure parents don’t know their daughter is getting help from the school nurse to obtain an abortion is “in the best interest of the student.”
These ideas go against our values and convictions as parents. We inherently know that it is our responsibility to have these discussions and teach our kids the values we believe they need. And yet our authority and rights as parents are being taken right from under us “for the good of the children.”
But is it really in kids’ best interest to be exposed to so much graphic violence and sex?
A recent study published in Pediatrics suggests that parents, among others, are harming their kids by allowing them to see graphic violence and explicit sexual images. By assuming that the “school knows best” and subjecting kids to explicit sexual images as part of “sex-ed,” parents are aiding the increase of our hyper-sexualized culture. And while some still want to argue that exposure to violence and sexuality didn’t affect them, an article at Family Studies refutes such arguments:
“These arguments persist in spite of hundreds of studies over several decades showing that sexual and violent content are genuinely influencing our behavior — and our morality. We may not kill people because we watched Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger shoot bad guys by the thousands. But research tells us that violent and sexual content do impact the way we behave towards others.”
So maybe the question we should be asking isn’t “has graphic violence and sexuality affected me?” but “has graphic violence and sexuality affected our culture as a whole?” The obvious answer is yes, it has. The pervasive nature of graphic violence and sexuality has reached epidemic proportions. When “pride parade’s” take place in our cities openly celebrating every kind of base debauchery we can safely say we’ve reached a crisis point. The influential and “intellectual” (I use that word loosely here) are now debating the merits of pedophilia and bestiality as a right, a form of sexual expression that should be protected. Yes, we’ve been affected.
The Family Studies article further states:
“Ongoing (or even periodic and accidental) exposure to sexual and violent content is empirically proven to have a desensitizing impact on both children and adults. The more we watch it, the less concerned we are about it — and the greater the potential impact on us, on our children, and on our society. We may not become ‘violent’ or ‘sexual,’ but our behaviour and our responses are impacted by what we have seen. Empathy is reduced. Objectification is increased. Morality erodes.”
Admit it: you’re not nearly as shocked and outraged at the sight of people missing limbs, or being beheaded, as you once were. You aren’t as horrified at the news of a child being trafficked for sex, thrown off a bridge, or being sexually abused by a family member as you once were.
The reality is that we are all affected by how pervasive graphic sex and violence have become in our culture. And if we are less shocked by things that would have horrified our parents and grandparents what will it be like for our kids when they are grown? What will our grandkids face? As Family Studies makes clear, we need to consider ourselves less and our kids more:
“Our digital diet is desensitizing us. The violence and sex we see is glamorized, and often consequence-free. But there are consequences we are not aware of. We need to wake up. By not only enduring it, but embracing it — and endorsing it for our children’s entertainment — we act to their detriment.”