CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Sex-Saturated Media Leads to Sex-Saturated Kids

Apr 6, 2007

Some of you may have seen the recent media reports about a group of school children engaging in sex while their teacher was out of the room. The five fifth-grade students from New Orleans face criminal charges after authorities said four of them had sex in front of other students in an unsupervised classroom and kept a classmate posted as a lookout for teachers.

The act, which occurred late in March, involved two 11-year-old girls, a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year old boy, who were charged with obscenity, a felony. An 11-year-old boy, the alleged lookout, was charged with being an accessory.

As shocking as this is, the sad truth is, it is not an isolated incident. Increasingly, sexual activities are taking place at earlier ages. And this is happening at the same time that the media is bombarding us with sexual content of all descriptions.

Of course the civil libertarians and porn pushers will start foaming at the mouth about now, wildly objecting to any connection between the increase of sexually explicit material in the media, and an increase of sexual activity among children. Of course they would say that, wouldn’t they?

But most people who still have common sense are able to put two and two together. They know that a flood of explicit sexual imagery will have an impact on those soaking it in. This is not rocket science. To deny that there is any relationship between the two is simply to ignore reality.

Indeed, try telling any advertiser that there is no connection between constant exposure to images and certain behaviours. They spend billions of dollars a year pumping out 15- or 30-second TV ads, for example, knowing full well that exposure to such ads will lead to a response in the viewer. They know that imagery can and does influence behaviour.

Of course in the world of the social sciences, people are rightly hesitant about making a tight cause and effect link between anything. They know that there are many variables to consider in any given situation, and that an air-tight causal connection between any two things is hard to pin down.

Thus modern sociological researchers will instead only speak of probabilities, likely or possible connections and so on. And they will always conclude by saying more research needs to be done on a given issue. But with all those cautions and provisos in mind, they can still show that a given factor may lead to a given outcome.

Therefore there are a growing number of studies that show just that, in this area of sexuality in the media, and adolescent sexual activity. A number of researchers have published their findings in various academic journals showing this very thing. Let me just cite two recent studies, both from the journal Pediatrics.

A longitudinal study of 1792 adolescents as presented in the September 2004 issue of the journal found that those who had high exposure to sexual content on television doubled the likelihood of initiating intercourse compared with those who had low level of exposure.

Another longitudinal study, this time of over 1000 adolescents, as reported in the April 2006 Pediatrics produced similar results. The study found that 55 per cent of adolescents who were exposed to large amounts of sexual material in movies, music and the Internet had intercourse by the age of 16, compared with only 6 per cent of teens having sex who rarely saw such imagery in the media.

Many more such reports can be mentioned. The social science research, in other words, backs up what we know by common sense. The tsunami of porn, sleaze and sexually explicit material in our culture is of course having an impact. We are sexualising our whole society, children included.

Thus the sad tale that came out of New Orleans is not all that surprising. Indeed, we can expect to see more of it in the days ahead. We are simply reaping what we have sown here. The sexual libertarians, along with the porn industry, continue to insist that a flood of sexual imagery will have no impact on those being inundated by it.

Of course the tobacco industry insists that their product will have no negative impact on those who use it. Both are simply special interest groups who are pushing an agenda, and making money out of it as well.

Those sexualising our culture, especially pop culture, do not care about the harm it may be doing to others, especially our children. It is time they face up to reality, and start putting the good of the community, and the welfare of our children, ahead of their own desires to make money and promote indecency.

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6 Responses to Sex-Saturated Media Leads to Sex-Saturated Kids

  • I’m sure the experts will continue to puzzle over and debate the connection between the media (and in this case pornography) and social behaviour (in this case kids) but there won’t be much doubt in the minds of the marketing firms as they pay their staff bonuses this month.

    In reality, any person who fights for the degradation of sex and the cheapening of life is not liberating society or the media, but rather binding it to continually come up with increasingly shocking images and messages as they broadcast to an audience that is more and more morally numb.

    Damien Carson, Wynnum, Queensland

  • Bill

    I certainly think the overall argument you present is pretty much accurate, however I would keep in mind that given this incident occurred in New Orleans there may be cultural factors to weigh as well. Given the amount of family breakdown in that area of the US and the amount of illegitimate kids etc there are probably other variables involved. Though I don’t doubt that the sexualising of the culture played a significant part.

    Damien Spillane

  • Thanks Damien S

    Yes there is no question that father absence and/or family breakdown and the erosion of marriage are leading factors in the early onset of adolescent sexuality, especially of girls. So that issue certainly needs to be addressed, as I have done elsewhere on this site.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • When I first heard of this report about the group of school children in New Orleans, I was shocked, to say the least. These are just children, when I was that age (and it wasn‘t that long ago), all I thought about was ballet dancing and bike riding. Now, they are engaging in something that is very dangerous outside of the relationship of marriage.

    Sex has been downgraded by the media and not seen as something that God intended it to be. Between husband and wife, which brings the blessings of companionship, unity and delight.

    What these children experienced was more animal-like. How did they learn this? It’s monkey see, monkey do. The media knows that sex sells and they try to sell anything with it.

    Grace Soroka

  • Bill,
    It’s not only the “tsunami” of porn and graphic sexuality in the media that is sexualising our children and conditioning our young people to early sexual activity. Sex education in schools at younger and younger ages has the effect of exciting an interest in sexual activity without moral guidelines. If sex education is intended even partly to limit sexual activity of young people, reduce teenge pregnancies and promote responsible sexual behaviour it has patently failed to do that. If this is not its intended purpose, what is?

    David Esdaile

  • This problem goes far deeper than just sexual media presentations. Our culture as a whole has deteriorated on many levels. For kids to be involved in this sort of behaviour I would question what sort of distorted information, teaching, roll models had been influencing them from their own home environment. What have they been taught about their own personal worth as a person? I think much of this sort of behaviour is the result of rebelling against the sensible leadership and guidance of the creator and what has been produced is exactly what you should expect. Many tribal cultures around the world have the same types of behaviours without any media input. Kids having sex in the classroom is just a symptom of the real problem. To function at our best we really do need the leadership of the one who created us. Maybe it’s time to have another look at the plan God intended for humanity.The farther we drift from that plan the more problems we seem to encounter. Just a thought.
    Steve Dunn, NSW.

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