When will we say, ‘Enough is enough?’

God calls us to leave behind the trivialization of evil, which soothes our conscience and allows us to carry on as before” (Pope Benedict XVI).

Pope Benedict XVI's words, “the trivialization of evil,” brought to mind what so much of the media does these days. Serious sin is presented as a trivial matter unworthy of our concern or attention. The more we, as a society, accept this damaging media mindset, the more immoral our world becomes.

When will we say, “Enough is enough?”

When television became available to the masses, sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show were not even permitted to show married couples sharing a bed. Now, it’s common that, within a few hours of meeting, two perfect strangers will “hook up” with no commitment intended.

Occasionally, film makers disguise the plot’s inappropriateness by later allowing the couple to commit to happily ever after.

Unfortunately, in reality, that scenario rarely occurs. According to statistics generated in a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41% of high school students surveyed reported having had sexual intercourse. In the U.S., 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases were reported; half were diagnosed in children ages 15-24. One-quarter of babies born that year were to teen mothers, and 33% of abortions were performed on women ages 20-24. (Statistics from the article, “Sexuality Uncovered, Part I: Understanding What We Know.”)

Yet, turn on most movies or television series, and uncommitted sex is continuously promoted with no consideration about the consequences of an hour’s poor choice.

Pornography has become an emotional epidemic in adolescents due to their unchaperoned use of technology.  According to Dr. Jim Schroeder’s article, “The Pornography Plague: Part I,” it is a $12 billion industry.

The average young-adult male is said to access porn at least 50 times a week. ‘Since 2016, 17 states have introduced resolutions declaring pornography as a public health crisis,” Dr. Schroeder states. He also reports that he is “increasingly working with younger and younger youth who acknowledge that porn has negatively impacted their lives.” A 2013 UK documentary “Porn on the Brain,” showed “how compulsive pornography users have real similarities to drug addicts.”

In March 2017, Netflix produced the series “Thirteen Reasons Why.” In graphic detail, it tells the story of a girl who left 13 tapes explaining her reasons for committing suicide. Many critics complained that it inaccurately portrayed circumstances while also glorifying suicide. A study later found that, in April 2017, following the completion of the series, U.S. youths ages 10-17 had the highest rate of suicide ever in a single month – jumping by almost 30%. While it was impossible to prove the link between the statistics and series, no other explanations were found. Netflix renewed it for a third season as it proved to be a financial windfall!

A Wall Street Journal report indicated that Facebook had hidden research clearly indicating that Instagram is harming youth – particularly teen girls (40% of Instagram users are under the age of 22). Despite the findings, Facebook – which owns Instagram – states clearly in its documents “that youth have been and continue to be one of its major targets for growth.” Dr. Schroeder also noted, “Three years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that two Apple investors called out the company in regards to clear evidence that ‘iPhones and children are a toxic pair.’”

Sexting, which often leads to human trafficking, has exploded with the availability of technology to our youth. Theresa Chamblee, Director of Social Concerns for Catholic Charitites of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, believes that social media – particularly Facebook and gaming apps – are the main culprits. She explains how a child first develops an online relationship with an unknown person, eventually posting inappropriate material. Understanding the power of shame, fear or guilt, the perpetrators then threaten to share the post unless the victim agrees to their demands.

In today’s world, technology in the hands of unsupervised youth is comparable to handing them a loaded grenade. Curiosity and/or peer pressure often pushes them to pull the pin.