March 20, 2006
For over forty years, the murder of Catherine Genovese under the windows of her Queens, New York, neighbors has stood as a defining example of the tragedy of human indifference. Her attacker had over twenty minutes to assault and stab “Kitty.” When police were finally summoned, they determined that over 38 people had heard the attack, ignoring her cries and pleas for help…and had done nothing.
Indifference, the failure to be moved by the needs of a fellow human being, in this case, had immediate and devastating consequences. We are able to see the result of indifference in the haunting photo of Kitty and point our fingers at 38 people.
But today in America, we are facing a crisis of indifference that is just as tragic. Entrusted as guardians of the welfare of our children, we have let a culture of indifference develop, turning a corporate blind eye to assaults on our children on a daily basis.
Consider this brief sampling of events over the past decade:
- In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled against the Communications Decency Act, removing the legal tool needed to prosecute those knowingly sending sexually explicit materials to minors.
- A Kaiser Family Foundation report states that 70% of teenagers (ages 15-17) “have accidentally come across pornography on the Web.” Adolescent males make up one of the largest consumer groups of pornography, and their access on the Internet is largely unrestricted.
- In a college sex survey this year, 87% of university students polled have virtual sex mainly using Instant Messenger, webcam, and telephone.
- The average age of first exposure to Internet porn is 11.
- Approximately 20% of all Internet pornography involves children. According to a National Children’s Homes report, the number of Internet child pornography images has increased 1500% since 1988.
These events signal a change in our culture that cries out for our attention. In the name of love for our children, we cannot be indifferent.
Replicated studies on pornography are virtually unanimous in their conclusions: When male subjects were exposed to as little as six weeks’ worth of standard hard-core pornography, they:
- developed an increased sexual callousness toward women;
- began to trivialize rape as a criminal offense or no longer considered it a crime at all;
- developed distorted perceptions about sexuality;
- developed an appetite for more deviant, bizarre, or violent types of pornography (normal sex no longer seemed to do the job);
- devalued the importance of monogamy and lacked confidence in marriage as either a viable or lasting institution; and
- viewed nonmonogamous relationships as normal and natural behavior.
Thankfully, the FCC has begin to tackle the problem of nudity and sex on television. Weeding through roughly 300,000 complaints, it recently proposed almost $4 million worth of fines for television programming deemed indecent by the commission. Of this total, $3.6 million in proposed fines were for the Dec. 31, 2004, episode of CBS’s “Without a Trace” which depicted teen girls and boys participating in an orgy.
Parents must do their part, too. A Kaiser Family Foundation report released in March, 2005, reported that “about half (53%) of all 8- to 18-year-olds say their families have no rules about TV watching. Forty-six percent (46%) say their families do have some rules, including 20% who say the rules are enforced most of the time, while the rest say the rules are enforced either some of the time, a little of the time, or never.”
Indifference is killing our children. The graphic sexual imagery assaulting our children at every turn is not harmless. It is poisoning their view of normal human relationships, teaching them that sex is a commodity even in the most casual of encounters.
Love for our children demands more than words and hugs. If we want our children to grow and mature with healthy attitudes about love, sex and marriage, we must fight the tendency to ignore what is right in front of our eyes. We must get involved.
If we love our children, we cannot be indifferent.
For more information visit: www.protectkids.com
See Archives for more past editorials.