Jewish World Review Dec. 9, 2003 / 14 Kislev, 5764

Lou Dobbs

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Let our children be children | Our children are our greatest national treasure. As adults, we are responsible for their health and welfare, and must provide them the best possible foundation for success in life. We are failing.

Parents who are desperate to provide love and care for their children are too often forced to leave their kids at home alone. These children are forced to assume household responsibilities, allowed to neglect their studies, allowed to decide without parental supervision what they watch on TV and see on the Internet.

Our economy is not only changing the nature of childhood, but also shortening it. The media, marketing and advertising industries are driving the demise of childhood and exploiting the vulnerability of our children.

Marketers have come up with a label for our kids between the age of 8 and 14: They're "tweens." And the tweens make up a market of 25 million consumers. The tweens are a tempting market because they control $39 billion in spending power each year and have influence over an additional $76 billion in adult purchases.

Advertisers understand what too many parents don't - that children are shedding their childhoods faster and faster, both physically and emotionally - and marketers are eager to communicate with children, often in terms inappropriate for even adult consumers.

It has been nearly 90 years since the first child-labor legislation was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. Dr. Felix Adler led the lobbying effort to stop exploitation: "It should be plainly said that whatever happens in the sacrifice of adult workers, the public conscience inexorably demands that the children under twelve years of age shall not be touched; that childhood should be sacred; that industrialism and commercialism shall not be allowed beyond this point to degrade humanity."

Donate to JWR

The dictates of our modern economy too often demand employment of both parents. And even when one parent can afford to stay home with children, families make an all too popular decision to pursue careers instead of parenting responsibly.

The Parents Television Council recently conducted a study that found that video game publishers and movie studios continue to market adult-oriented entertainment directly to children, despite promises from the industry to stop doing so. The same study also found a significant increase in the amount of adult-appropriate entertainment advertised during the first hour of prime-time TV, when kids are most often watching. Kids are bombarded daily with Victoria's Secret commercials featuring nearly nude supermodels and with Coors beer commercials starring scantily clad twins.

Retailers are increasingly using sex in their advertising to teens and tweens. This year's Christmas catalog from Abercrombie & Fitch, a clothing company popular with young teens, set a new standard in bad taste. The company's 2003 Christmas Field Guide was quickly pulled from stores.

Michael Craven, vice president for cultural affairs at the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families, says he fears that the message is: "sex is recreational, sex is to be enjoyed without restraint, without inhibition, without any sort of boundaries whatsoever."

Children in this country are being denied the ability to be children, and the media is telling them that this is not only OK, but "the way." Many kids are becoming unhealthily preoccupied with their appearance and sexuality. Studies show that children who make a lot of effort to look like media figures are more likely to worry about their weight and are also likely to become chronic dieters.

Many children's advocates believe that in addition to encouraging an unnatural obsession with body image, overtly sexual marketing tactics are having a profound negative effect on our society.

"There are very real and deleterious consequences (to this) message of sexual hedonism," Craven cautions. "We want parents to be aware that the culture is communicating very powerfully to their children. And it is sending them clearly defined and methodically advanced messages as it relates to sexual behavior."

What is wrong with our modern economy that it denies so many children their parents, and so many parents their children? It is time for we Americans to reclaim our children, and for our children to be allowed to reclaim their childhoods.

Every weekday publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Lou Dobbs is the anchor and managing editor of CNN's "Lou Dobbs Moneyline." Comment by clicking here.

12/01/03: Broken borders pose a serious health risk
11/25/03: Free trade costs plenty
11/18/03: European Union is playing a dangerous game
11/10/03: This time, it's not the economy
11/04/03: Overseas outsourcing is an alarming trend
10/28/03: Spending so much time 'making a living', we don't live
10/21/03: As population soars, U.S. faces tough choices
10/14/03: Schools need to re-emphasize math and science
10/07/03: It's lonely at the top
09/30/03: Is America over-medicating?
09/23/03: Corporate execs need to stop selling out U.S. workers
09/16/03: The scandals just keep on coming
09/09/03: Let's get real on energy
09/02/03: Is free enterprise the answer to education woes?
08/26/03: Building the road to recovery
08/12/03: War on drugs is still a war worth fighting
08/06/03: An attack on progressive thought
07/29/03: Prosperity begins at home
07/22/03: Real earnings, or really creative earnings?
07/15/03: Flirting with disaster
07/08/03: It's good to be the king
07/01/03: Border disorder
06/24/03: Prairie dogs and mosquito bogs
06/17/03: Bullish on America
06/10/03: Retirement realities: we need new solutions — soon
06/03/03: Curing what ails us
05/27/03: America's export problem
05/21/03: Wall Street's new imperative: Integrity
/13/03: Losing sight of the dangers in creating further fiscal stimulus
05/06/03: Optimism is unfashionable, but here's some anyway
04/29/03: Nuclear nightmare
04/22/03: Naysayers ignore signs of economic recovery
04/15/03: Game over--but for whom?
04/08/03: No more fool's games
03/31/03: United States must seriously review foreign economic and political relationships
03/24/03: Delusional Chirac may be a thorn in coalition's side, but new alliances are forming in response to 21st-Century threats without him and UN
03/18/03: Bush critics offer little more than hyperbole
03/11/03: Geopolitical visibility
03/04/03: Freedom: Our best export
02/27/03: Guns, butter and greasing the way
02/18/03: Looking for a silver lining
02/10/03: Space program remains a valuable investment
02/04/03: Hi pal, come back
01/28/03: Bush address a chance to bolster confidence
01/22/03: Here we go again!
01/14/03: Bush's bold bid
01/07/03: The only thing certain is uncertainty
12/30/02: No need to be so negative as new year approaches
12/23/02: NY's AG deserves credit for settlement
12/18/02: Critics of Bush nominees should tone down rhetoric
12/09/02: A lot rides on prez's Treasury pick
12/04/02: A fast fix for corporate credibility?
11/26/02: Urge to merge is hard to resist
11/19/02: Are we really so bad off?
11/12/02: Bush's lucky week bodes well for recovery
11/05/02: Wall Street firms treat investors as fools
10/29/02: Earnings estimates offer some hope
10/22/02: Economy's strength tied to national security
10/17/02: Harvey Pitt, get real!
10/08/02:Are we experiencing the fall before the rise?
10/01/02: Concerns about earnings are justified
09/24/02: Business leaders must abandon stall tactics
09/17/02: Wall Street's reality check
09/12/02: There's no better time for leaders to show resolve


© 2003, TMS