The Elephant in the Room | Tom Hoopes | Catholic World Report
Ten ways the media has failed to protect kids.
When reporters first began to pound Pope Benedict XVI, spuriously, on the abuse problem, the Internet news outlets of the biggest media companies in the world had to make a tough choice. What to feature: the slideshow of Tiger Woods’ latest porn-star mistress, available to all users regardless of age; the viral video of “Bombshell” McGee stripping before she met Jesse James, so popular with the middle-school crowd; or the hard-hitting critique of how careless the Pope is about children?
The irony of it would have been funny if it wasn’t so disgusting.
Sometimes we are most oblivious to what is most obvious. So let us describe the elephant in the room regarding the abuse scandals and how the biggest players in the media handle issues of sexuality, children, and abuse.
1. Media companies send sex images to your kids for money. All of the networks air shows that dwell on violent, sexual, and pornographic themes during prime time, when kids are watching. Ask kids their favorite television shows over the last decade and you will hear CSI, Law & Order, and other shows that contain sexual themes. Know any Hannah Montana fans? The media has delivered actress Miley Cyrus topless (in Vanity Fair) and pole-dancing on an ice cream truck (at the Teen Choice Awards). She’s 17. Other media companies get rich off of pornography, plain and simple.
Pope Benedict XVI challenged lay people on April 16, 2008 in Washington, DC, when he said: “What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?” His point: the Church is doing what it can, but it’s not getting any help from a culture that has made even the news unwatchable for kids.
2. The media ignores today’s hurricane to report a stiff wind long ago. Federal statistics say that today one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
US Department of Health and Human Services statistics show that there were 90,000 substantiated abuse cases in 2003 in the United States. The John Jay report found that there were 10,667 abuse allegations total against Catholic priests in the United States between 1950 and 2003, many of them unsubstantiated.
On the one hand, Penn State’s Philip Jenkins, who has studied both anti-Catholicism and sex abuse said, “research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination—or indeed, than non-clergy,” and called the coverage “a gross efflorescence of anti-Catholic rhetoric.”
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