What happened to little ladies and gentlemen?

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2019

By Nathan Rice

The 11-year-old in my backseat caught herself midway through the word she was saying and stopped speaking. It was the word that made Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” get his mouth washed out with soap. I was glad she stopped. I had spoken to her and her 10-year-old brother about their language, and they had both promised to do their best to avoid foul language in my presence.

A little bit later, I spoke with a 13-year-old who wanted me to listen to one of his favorite songs. He said he would find the edited version, so his pastor wouldn’t have to hear the dirty words crammed throughout the song.

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I opened my social media page where an old friend posted the three curse words her 5-year-old daughter just said, before adding that she was glad her daughter didn’t “drop the f-bomb this time.”
Words, images, music and innuendo that were one restricted to places where children were not allowed to visit have made their way to schoolyards.

Children are often permitted to watch television shows and movies that contain copious amounts of profanity, sexual innuendo and crude humor. The language and behavior of those on the screen permeates their young minds.

This influx of crude behavior and vulgar speech continues for many children when they are granted unfettered access to video sharing sites such as YouTube. While there are many fun, interesting and even educational videos on these sites, there are also videos filled with foul language and numerous vulgarities. Many videos on these sites target a young audience, and children and youth are drawn to their programs. Some of the stars of these programs use lots of foul language, are rude or use crude humor. Much like television, children and youth view these stars as hip or cool and mimic their behavior.

Countless video games contribute to training this type of behavior. “Grand Theft Auto” and “Red Dead Redemption,” both extremely popular video game series, are examples of games that can twist young minds.

Players in “Grand Theft Auto” play as a criminal perpetrating premeditated crime as they roam around their digital world. The game has a large amount of foul language, allows players to visit a virtual strip club where topless women entertain their guests, become professional hitmen who are hired to carry out murders, commit sexual assault on women and much more.

“Red Dead Redemption” has a fun wild west premise but contains gruesome violence that includes blood splattering on the screen, nudity, strong sexual content and lots of foul language.

Certain music continues in this vulgar trend with lyrics in a crude theme that contain explicit sexual imagery and are full of foul language. The words, thoughts and images of these songs are pumped into children’s brains through their music players.
Homes can even contribute as parents and other adults curse around children, or even at them, and fail to keep conversations proper around young ears.

It’s no wonder so many children curse profusely and have attitudes and behavior once relegated to back alleys and places of ill repute.

I understand many people do not believe as I do, so they don’t have a problem with foul language or explicit forms of entertainment, but I find it tragic that our culture has seemed to have given up on raising gentlemen and ladies.

It’s time for us as a society and culture to re-evaluate what we’re allowing into the minds and hearts of our children. Have we truly reached the point where we are OK with children and youth cursing like sailors of old and laughing at sexually explicit jokes that they don’t even fully understand?

I certainly hope not, but what I see and hear every day tells me otherwise. I encourage parents and all those involved in raising children to re-examine what you’re allowing your children to watch, see, hear and play. It’s time for us to rethink what we’re cramming into their tender hearts and minds. America, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.