Friday, March 29, 2013

Study Shows Teens Imitate Risky Sex of Films, TV

Culture challenge of the week: Movies “selling” sex to children

Can you name the last five movies your teenage son or daughter has watched with friends? How strong was the sexual content in those movies? Does it really matter?

New research suggests it does. The study, conducted by Ross O'Hara and soon to be published in the journal Psychological Science, found that on-screen promiscuity promotes promiscuity in real life.

“Adolescents who are exposed to more sexual content in movies start having sex at younger ages, have more sexual partners” and engage in riskier sexual activities, Mr. O'Hara said.

While at Dartmouth University, Mr. O'Hara (now a researcher at the University of Missouri) and his team analyzed the movie-watching patterns of about 1,200 young teens, ages 12 to 14. Researchers analyzed the teens’ sexual behavior six years later, considering the age at which they became sexually active, their number of partners and the riskiness of their sexual activity, including whether they used contraceptives.

The result: bad news. Young teens who viewed movies with sexual content were profoundly influenced by what they watched. They initiated sexual behavior earlier than their peers who had viewed less sexual content, and they tended to imitate the on-screen sexual behaviors they saw — which included casual sex, having multiple partners and high-risk behaviors.

It’s not surprising, really. Teens crave information about sex — and too often turn to the media for information. Moreover, adolescent hormones operate in overdrive, and teens naturally are more sensitive to sexual stimulation. Less likely to delay gratification, teens are more likely to be impulsive and think themselves impervious to harm. The combination, researchers say, means that “sensation seeking, or the tendency to seek more novel and intense sexual stimulation” increases in teens who “watched more movies with sexually explicit content.”

So what should parents do?

How to save your family: Select movies with your children

Mr. O'Hara sums it up well, saying, “This study, and its confluence with other work, strongly suggests that parents need to restrict their children from seeing sexual content in movies at young ages.”

Agreed. Unfortunately, the solution is not as simple as checking a movie’s rating. In fact, G-rated movies are part of the problem. The O’Hara study also analyzed the sexual content in 700 films, all top-grossing films from 1998 to 2004. Defining “sexual content” as anything from heavy kissing to actual sex scenes, researchers found sexual content in more than a third of the G-rated movies, more than half of PG-rated films and 4 out of every 5 R-rated movies.

Short of prohibiting movies — an unwise and unworkable solution — there are some things a parent can do. First, use websites that provide specific information about a movie’s content, rather than a reviewer’s judgment about an appropriate viewing age.

Websites such as and provide not only specifics about movie content, but also analysis from a Christian perspective. (PluggedIn offers reviews of music and gaming products, as well.) Two straightforward secular sources are and Both provide valuable descriptions of specific movie content, including sexuality, violence and language.

The Parent’s Television Council, at, is an excellent resource for information on the content of popular TV shows and offers great movie reviews.

One caution: Some websites, such as, lean left or are tied in tightly with entertainment industry folks and can’t be relied upon by parents who want to raise children with traditional values.

Second, talk with your children about sex. While sex won’t be a casual dinnertime conversation topic, you need to create private time with your teens to explore their feelings and questions about sex. If we’re silent, our teens will learn about sex from friends and the movies — a route that’s sure to normalize sexual risk-taking.

Third, stay in the loop. Talk with other parents and get to know your teen’s friends. Realize that at some point your child probably will see something too sexually explicit, whether at a friend’s house or on a computer. Keep the conversations going and remind your teens that Hollywood is a world without consequences.

First appeared in the Washington Times 8/12/12

Rebecca Hagelin serves on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk Board of Directors and is the author of "30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family." To purchase her book and reach her directly, visit

Friday, March 22, 2013

Don’t Let PC Schools Hijack Language

Culture Challenge of the Week: Politically Correct Speech

As our children head back to school, parents need to teach them this truth: Words matter.

Many public schools, whether purposely or not, promote the liberal agenda through curriculum choices, print and video materials, and guest speakers. As we head into election season, parents can expect to see the same thing happening on a magnified scale, as teachers and schools insist that students use only politically correct speech. The NEA and the leftist nonprofits swarming around public schools will see to that.

The words chosen by teachers and administrators to describe sensitive cultural issues shape students’ perceptions of those issues. Teachers know that. They have tremendous power to influence the children under their care — your children.

Teachers who buy into the liberal agenda eagerly foist the liberal worldview on their students by modeling politically correct language. When necessary, they will correct a student’s choice of non-politically correct words, all in the name of sensitivity and tolerance.

Even teachers who believe in biblical morality or perhaps lean conservative, may fall into the politically palatable word trap. They’ve been persuaded that using certain words and avoiding others is the right thing to do. Deviation from the approved script might offend someone or appear culturally insensitive. Free speech becomes “favored speech.” Some words are preferable to others, and the use of the “unfavored” can spell social death.

Once the favored speech and word choices of liberal activists creep into a school and become part of the official lexicon, students can feel enormous social pressure to conform. As a result, students from religious or conservative backgrounds may find themselves using the language of the left, whether on purpose — to fit in and avoid ridicule — or unthinkingly.

How to Save Your Family: Take a Vocabulary Test

Encourage your children to use charitable, respectful language in all circumstances, but urge them to be strong and clear about the truth. Use the language of reality — God’s reality — to describe culturally sensitive issues. Provide a strong example yourself, too.

Ask your children to explain their understanding of politically correct words and phrases. Correct their perceptions as necessary. Consider the two examples below, but be alert for other phrases that demand explanation.

• “Hate speech” — For the liberal left, hate speech means language that suggests disapproval and nonacceptance of homosexuality, abortion or other immoral behavior.

Does your child understand that supporting traditional marriage is not hate speech? Neither is public disapproval of homosexual behavior. Speaking the truth about homosexual behavior — that it’s a disordered inclination and a sin in God’s eyes — is not hate speech. It is the truth, and must be spoken in love, as Scripture tells us, with compassion and sensitivity.

Speech doesn’t become “hateful” just because it makes others feel uncomfortable, sad or troubled. Sensitivity and prudence, however, require us to consider when to speak the truth and to whom.

• “Marriage equality” — This fall, Maryland voters will face a referendum on whether to approve the legislature’s attempts to create marriage equality for homosexuals.

How teachers frame the issue matters greatly. Will they describe the referendum as a vote on whether to support marriage equality or to deny lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-questioning people equal rights?

To impressionable students, the issue becomes simple: “Equality” is a red, white and blue American value, so gays should have it, too. But marriage equality is not only misleading, it puts students who support marriage as traditionally defined (between one man and one woman) in the uncomfortable position of being against that great American value, “equality.”

Does your child understand that attempts to redefine marriage to include homosexual relationships do not pivot on the question of equality? All of us are equal in dignity before God. All Americans possess equal human and civil rights.

Marriage, however, has a history (and a meaning) that is ancient from the first days of creation, and the practical reality is that only men and women create babies together through sexual intercourse. Marriage is designed to create families that bond mothers to fathers, creating the optimal home for rearing the child they created together.

Politically correct language can’t change reality, no matter how hard liberals try. Help your child distinguish truth from liberal talking points.

First appeared in the Washington Times on 8/19/2012

Rebecca Hagelin serves on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk Board of Directors and is the author of "30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family." To purchase her book and reach her directly, visit

Friday, March 15, 2013

Obama's America

Culture challenge of the week: Obama’s America

As anti-American riots and murderous attacks erupt across the Middle East, America’s response will be dictated by a man few Americans really know — Barack Obama. It’s time to change that.

A new movie, “2016: Obama’s America,” is doing just that, breaking box-office records in the process. Who would have thought a documentary, in the midst of a tight economy, would draw record crowds to America’s theaters?

But a documentary is a story, and this one has a compelling message. It’s been my honor to help promote it. Americans are flocking to the theaters to learn the truth about Mr. Obama — the man — and the influences that have shaped him and the worldview now threatening our children’s future.

Hitting number three in box office receipts last Monday and Tuesday, according to the website Box Office Mojo, “2016: Obama’s America” also has leapt past all but one of liberal filmmaker Michael Moore’s heavily-promoted documentaries and now holds the number two slot on the all-time list of political documentaries.

What’s the film’s message? That Mr. Obama’s ideology, his mind-set, his dreams and his perspective on America inevitably reflect the rabid anti-colonialism of his Kenyan father and radical mother. As a result, from his student years on into adulthood, Mr. Obama purposefully has sought the counsel and mentorship of five men known for their Marxist perspectives, anti-American rants, and, in the case of Bill Ayers, their terrorist activities here in America.

These are the forces that have made Mr. Obama into the man he is today.

Portrayed by the press in 2008 as a thoughtful scholar and coalition-builder, the Barack Obama of 2012 stands on stage as a brazen, big-government liberal with a socialist bent, whose rallying cry now depends on class envy and government dependency. Worse, as “2016: Obama’s America” shows, he welcomes America’s loss of power and prestige on the world stage. Similarly, he has overseen a precipitous drop in America’s military might, spinning it as a path to reduced international tensions.

What happened to the president who, in 2008, was going to usher in a new era of peace the world over, of friendly relations with rising Islamic theocracies, and nonpartisan politics at home?

Those promises — little more than puffery and hot air — have gone up in smoke. American flags burn outside of embassies. The median U.S. income continues to walk backward, dropping well below the median income of 10 years ago, according to Census Bureau figures. And the “nonpartisan” president has not succeeded in getting a budget passed, instead muscling his way toward ideological solutions through the power of executive orders.

How to save your family: Secure your child’s future

Take your children, particularly your middle and high school-age children, to see “2016: Obama’s America.” They will not get this information in the classroom, thanks to the political heft of liberal teachers’ unions that contribute heavily to Mr. Obama. (Even conservative teachers may soft-pedal negative facts about our sitting president to avoid liberal attacks that paint critics of the first black president as secret racists.)

A recent showing in Virginia — a battleground state — prompted typical reactions among theatergoers. One group of retirees left the theater, shaking their heads, worrying that Mr. Obama would bequeath a “socialist” America to their grandkids. Their response? They’ll vote — and not for Mr. Obama.

A group of teens, not yet old enough to vote, saw the movie as a call-to-action. The eldest, Jack, observed that Mr. Obama’s “mindset and the way he thinks,” combined with his administration’s troubling drawdown of American military capabilities, make the prospect of Mr. Obama’s re-election “scary.” Michael, Jack’s brother, commented that “Obama’s history” is a “bad history” that most people don’t know, but should.

JP, his friend, agreed, saying, “People need to know that his mentors and friends were Communists and even a terrorist.” That’s part of the problem, Jack observed, “The media chooses to keep that quiet,” so voters may end up being “manipulated into re-electing Obama.” Their response? The boys resolved to spread the word.

And so should we. Educate yourself. Encourage others to do the same. Go to the theater this weekend, so there is time for you to learn the truth and spread the word. Without access to facts about the real Mr. Obama — the one nobody knew in 2008 — America may make a mistake from which we may never recover.

Our children deserve better.

First appeared in the Washington Times 9/16/12

Rebecca Hagelin serves on Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk Board of Directors and is the author of "30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family." To purchase her book and reach her directly, visit