Q&A – Where Did the Respectful Teenagers Go?
Question: I was watching an old black-and-white movie on television the other night that was made in the late 1930s. What jumped out at me was the respectful way the teenagers related to their parents. These kids, who appeared to be seventeen or eighteen years old, were downright deferential and looked to their father to make final decisions regarding their own behavior. I know this was just fiction, but I got the impression that that's the way families functioned back then. Today, even "good kids" from strong families are often more independent and disrespectful to their parents. If I'm right about this change, why has it occurred and how do you see it?
Answer: The movie you saw is characteristic of others made during that era, because children in most nations of the world responded that way to their parents. There were exceptions, of course. Rebellion has occurred throughout history--even in biblical times. Remember that King David's son Amnon raped his half sister Tamar and Absalom tried to overthrow the reign of his father. While some of yesterday's families had to deal with upheavals of this nature, they have typically been the exception rather than the rule. But today, as you indicated, children and young people are taught to be disrespectful and rebellious by the culture. One of the most effective teachers is the rock-music industry and the excesses it embraces.
It is difficult to overestimate the negative impact contemporary music is having. Rock stars are the heroes, the idols, that young people want to emulate. And when they are depicted in violent and sexual roles, many teenagers and preadolescents are pulled along in their wake.
What could possibly be wholesome about showing explicit sex scenes--especially those involving perversion--to twelve- and thirteen-year-old kids? Yet videos come into the home via MTV and other channels that feature men and women in blatantly sexual situations, or even in depictions of sadism.
One study showed that more than half of all MTV videos featured violence or implied violence, and 35 percent revealed violence against women. A steady diet of this garbage will pollute the minds of even the healthiest of teenagers.
I believe that this perpetual and pernicious exposure to rock music is responsible, at least in part, for many of the social problems now occurring among the young, including the high suicide rate, the reported willingness of young men to rape women if given an opportunity, and the moral undermining of the next generation.
By Dr. James Dobson