Worse than exposing kids to vulgarity: making them part of it

I obviously care about values, values in the media, and how we teach our children values (and help protect them from some of the value-less media out there). Let’s just say for my purposes here that “values” is shorthand for positive messages and content that is low on vulgarity, harsh language, sex, violence, and other crudeness.

I started my book-review website, Rated Reads, because I wanted to provide useful guidance for readers of all ages and parents of younger readers. The more information we can obtain as media consumers and parents of media consumers before actually viewing movies, TV, books, websites, etc., the better: we can protect ourselves from content we wouldn’t want to have to see/hear. Luckily, there are a good number of websites and other resources available to help us make good, informed decisions about movies and TV shows, as well as music. I started Rated Reads because there weren’t nearly so many resources available with the same kind of information about books.

Naturally, with this mindset and as the mother of four daughters, I want to be able to protect them from seeing and hearing vulgar, obscene, gross, crude content. I don’t want to see/hear that stuff myself, and I certainly don’t want my girls to be inundated with it. I can’t protect them from other people or from other kids at school (much as schools supposedly try to police obscene language, etc., it’s a losing battle in reality, honestly), but I can help them to feel safe at home.

With this as my philosophy, I’ve always been shocked by what I see other parents do/not do for their own children. Sure, all parents are different, and I can’t say that “different” is usually or always bad. But sometimes it’s hard not to judge, such as when I see adults bring tiny kids to PG-13 movies or just movies that are super-scary or intense. Or those who routinely let their young kids watch R-rated movies at home. I just can’t see that that does any good for (and doesn’t harm) these impressionable youngsters.

But what really, really makes me start steaming is seeing vulgar movies or TV starring children. For example, when I went to the movies this week, I saw a preview for a movie I will NEVER go see, called “Bad Grandpa.” An actor dresses up as an old man and takes a young boy cross-country with him on an MTV “Jackass”-inspired trip. They pull all kinds of pranks and film real people’s reactions. One clip in this trailer showed this young boy, who is 9 years old, dressing up as a pole dancer and gyrating in all kinds of crude ways that would make me cringe if it were an adult performing the acts. But this is a CHILD! To expose kids to this stuff is bad enough, but to then make a child PERFORM these acts is beyond irresponsible. It’s heinous. It’s horrible. It goes beyond the pale.

I don’t think I’m a prude. I simply believe in values (and if you don’t, then don’t bother commenting because we come from very different sides and will likely never agree). I believe in teaching values to our kids, in protecting them from as much as we can, in helping them learn ways to protect themselves from vulgarity as they grow older. Again, none of us can possibly shield ourselves completely. But we can take steps to reduce the amount of crudeness we have to ingest. And it’s parents’ responsibility to reduce exposure and teach their children, not douse them in “adult” filth.

We’re living in a world that’s radioactive with crudeness and vulgarity. We’re going to be exposed. Question is: will we take precautions and shield ourselves and our kids, or will we allow ourselves to be constantly irradiated, leading to sickness, cancer and death of the inner self?

Home life

lifeandlims View All →

I'm a book reviewer, editor, and writer with four daughters and tons of projects always keeping me hopping. I blog at Life and Lims and run the book review site Rated Reads.

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