Upending the hookup culture: How parents can take action

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2015/10/02/upending-the-hookup-culture-how-parents-can-take-action/

While we were watching TV, learning social media, worrying about the economy and reading romance novels, the sexual sewer pipe broke and has flooded the cultural landscape. Today, it is all but impossible to escape the media’s in-your-face erotic images, news of scandals, and survey reports of the latest perversions.

What was once a private area of human life, limited by religious and social strictures, has burst its bounds. What was once a sensitive topic to be carefully introduced to the young by parents, has broken away and is now a subject in which even young kids are well-versed. What was once the subject of juicy rumors about the “fast kids” at school is now all out there on YouTube, magazines and even mainstream movies.

Ever since the Garden of Eden, sex has been a driving force in human history. It has been the source of great individual satisfaction and our fecundity. And it has been the cause of immense personal sorrow and social upheaval from the Trojan Wars to the AIDS epidemic. But we are entering a new era of sexual license where fornication is no longer considered a serious act with serious consequences that calls for serious reflection. Now sex is overwhelmingly seen as free of consequences and rather casual, if not meaningless entertainment.

But we’ve said all this before in earlier columns that can be found here and here.

The results of all this explicit sex are all around us. We are today a country where the yearly rate of out-of-wedlock birthrate is more than 40 percent; where among high school and middle school students sexual behavior of all kinds is out of control; where a young girl giving a guy “a Lewinsky” is just being friendly; where according to the Central for Disease Control, nearly 6 percent of students surveyed reported having sex before age 13. Where 10 million young people between 15 and 24 are infected annually with STDs [sexually transmitted diseases]. And on and on.

How did this happen? Is it simply that we have confused freedom with total, “anything goes” license? We didn’t notice the slow raising tide of filth.

One contributing factor is surely that adults have lost their voice.

When a daughter brings home her latest boyfriend and announces that they will be sharing the same room, most parents shrivel up and shut up. We’ve been caught flatfooted and tongue-tied in the face of the “cool,” new sexual mores. Few adults feel comfortable taking them on.

But what can we do?

We can surrender. Or we can fight. We can confront this poisoned culture in which we are raising our children and change it.

A few suggestions:

1) Contact Abercrombie & Fitch — and hundreds of other private corporations — about their lewd merchandising. Send around your information to like-minded friends and get them to apply pressure, too.

2) Make sure that porn sites are blocked from your children’s computers and smart phones. Demand that they be blocked in your local schools and libraries. You can find simple, how-to information here.

3) Find out what is going on in your public school sex education program. What are they teaching? When does it start? The majority of these programs fly under the flag of “health education.” They talk about human sexuality as if they are discussing calisthenics — devoid of any perspective beyond the physical,  systematically decoupling  the sex acts from the moral universe, all while peaking students’ curiosity to “get started.” Ask the school board why they are not promoting abstinence education, when recent research by Stan E. Weed and Thomas Lickona prove its clear effectiveness. Take advantage of legally required opt-out provisions, and help make other parents aware of them too. Rest assured, if enough parents keep their kids home on the day the third grade discusses HIV, schools will stop pushing this material on our youth.

4) Just say “no” — and explain why. Don’t be afraid to tell your children they may not have a smart phone (which provides unfettered access to the television, movies, the internet, and YouTube) or that they cannot go to a particular movie, watch a certain television show, or wear an inappropriate outfit. And don’t just say no. Explain your decision so that the kids understand your family values.

We need to go on the offensive. There is much more that we can do and we urge you to be part of a national campaign to push back against these sexual polluters. Pick a target and take it on. And stay with it. Add your own suggestion in the comment section below. Take encouragement from the way that the campaign against smoking has succeeded so well and in a relatively short time. After all, isn’t sex a little more important?

Kevin and Marilyn Ryan are writers, former teachers, and the editors of Why I’m Still A Catholic. They write primarily on cultural, educational and religious topics. This is the third in a series of articles by the Ryans on the hookup culture.