Protecting Our Children; Author Arms Parents against Popular Culture

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 12, 2005 | Go to article overview

Protecting Our Children; Author Arms Parents against Popular Culture


Byline: Robert Stacy McCain, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Television, magazines, schools, the Internet - everywhere today, says Rebecca Hagelin, parents see "sex, violence and depravity" in popular culture threatening their children. In her new book, "Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad," Mrs. Hagelin tells parents how to fight back in what she calls "the struggle to preserve childhood as a place of innocence."

Mrs. Hagelin, a mother of three, is vice president for communications and marketing at the Heritage Foundation. The following are excerpts of a recent telephone interview:

Q. You use the phrase "cultural terrorism" to characterize the worst aspects of popular culture. "Terrorism" is a strong word. Why did you choose it?

A. Our children are under attack by a killer culture, a culture that seeks to rob them of their innocence, of their youth and their best futures. ... Because our kids are being raised in a culture that does not have their best interests in mind, the best that our children can become is being destroyed. ...

When parents understand that basic morality and traditional American values are being attacked by our culture, you can see how there are similarities in what we know as terrorism. ...

The Roman Empire did not fall from an enemy attack, it fell from within. So while we are rightly trying to protect our country and our lives from foreign aggressors and madmen, we also need to be building up and protecting our children's character development.

Q. Of the many dangerous trends in popular culture today, which do you think are the worst?

A. The most dangerous trend is the lack of parental oversight and guidance to our children through the pop culture. ... Many parents who grew up during the '60s hippie generation never learned to deal with peer pressure themselves, and they're having a very difficult time teaching their own kids to say, "No," and to use discernment in making choices. ...

We like to say, "Oh, these kids today." ... But I would submit that the real problem isn't "these kids today," the real problem is these adults today.

Adults are the ones creating the oversexualized culture. Adults are the ones creating the television programming. ... Adults are the ones who have created the rampant pornography available through the Internet. Adults are the ones who created MTV. Adults are the ones who created the "if it feels good, do it" sex education that pervades our schools. ...

It's mothers who drive their daughters to the mall and plunk down money to dress their 10-year-olds like Paris Hilton. ... We have to step back as adults and see how we are failing this generation of children.

Q. Some people say that attempts to protect children against sex and violence in the media are overprotective. Do you think there is a danger in sheltering children from these influences?

A. No. ... People often accuse me of being overprotective. Overprotective? It's a loaded word that keeps parents from doing the basics of protecting their kids.

Am I protective? You bet I am. I'm the mama. It's my job to protect my kids.

Mothers, in particular, should be like mother bears rising up to protect their cubs. And, instead, many moms are shrugging their shoulders as they're renting R-rated movies that attack the sensibilities of their 13-year-olds. …

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