Presentation on theme: "Tim is a normal 15 year old; he attends school most of the time, only drinks when he is with friends, chews a little tobacco here and there, will lie."— Presentation transcript:
Tim is a normal 15 year old; he attends school most of the time, only drinks when he is with friends, chews a little tobacco here and there, will lie occasionally, steal only when he doesn’t have the money, and has already lost his virginity. Wait, what? How did this become the normal life of an American teenager? 30 years ago it was unacceptable to take part in any of these actions without being whipped by a belt, and somehow now this sort of behavior is the norm? This is all a severe side effect of the moral decay that America is currently in. But what are morals? A moral is an ethical motive based on ideas of right and wrong. Recently, the clear line of right and wrong has been blurred by society. Average citizens would not believe that 92 percent of teens lied to their parents at least once in the past year. They also would not believe that 71 percent of teens admitted that they cheated on at least one exam in the past year as well (“The Ethics of American Youth: 2000”). Declining morality in youth is a major problem in American society today primarily due to influences peers, parents, and the media.
Influences from teenagers’ peers share some of the blame in this moral collapse society has found itself in. In fact, according to a study by the Kaiser Foundation, 50 percent of 12 to17 year-olds feel pressured into sex and relationships (Martin, Heather). Having sex at 12 is immoral and is directly related to peer pressure. But that is the least of a teenager’s worries; stealing is becoming prominent in America (especially with the economy taking a downturn). 40 percent of males and 30 percent of females said they have stolen something from a store in the past year (“The Ethics of American Youth: 2000”). Teenagers are especially sensitive when self-appearance is at hand. If a teenager wants something that everyone else has that he /she can’t afford, he/she might just take it.
Finally, in a national survey conducted by the CDC, 36 percent of high school students reported being in a physical fight during the past 12 months (“Understanding Youth Violence”). Jay Reeve, a psychologist at Bradley Hospital at Brown University in Providence, notes that teens are more prone to impulsive, violent behavior because they lack a “developed sense of right and wrong” (“Peer Pressure, Media Fuel Youth Violence”). In other words, kids fight because they do not know that it is morally wrong. According to the data, when their friends are chanting, “Fight! Fight!”, nearly 40% of teens do not have the moral strength of character to walk away. Violence is their solution to conflict, and this choice does not bode well for the future of our society.
Who is to blame? Parents in America are the root of the moral decay that plagues our society. One of the largest influences on teens is single-parent households. The percentage of homes in which there is one parent has risen roughly 17 percent from 1960 to 2008. As a result of these parental inadequacies a moral paradigm shift has occurred in high school seniors. From 1976 to 2004, the percentage of seniors admitting that “having a child without being married is experimenting with worthwhile lifestyle or not affecting anybody” has increased from an average between boys and girls of 37.3 percent in 1976 to 55.9 percent in 2004 (Wilcox, Bradford, Ed.). These two statistics show that parents disregarding the traditional un-written code of ethics (having a good/any marriage before a baby) is sending a message to the next generation that having a child without being married is okay.
However, single-parent households are only one of the parental errors that have effected teens today. About 60 percent of American children age’s four to eleven are exposed to secondhand smoke at home (“Cigarette Smoking and Children”). Children learn by example and what kind of example is smoking around them going to present? Teenage sex; the number is staggering. 47.85% of teenagers have had sex (“Health Risk Behaviors by Sex”). Essentially half of the classroom has lost their virginity. This is partly due to the parent not caring about what their child does. In a study of 750 teenagers age’s 13 and up, kids who were monitored more by their parents tended to delay sex for about a year compared to those who received less monitoring (Kim, Christine). This study shows a clear relationship between parental influence and bad choices in immoral underage sex.
Finally, the media is attacking the traditional morals that are already decaying in American society. An average American child today is bombarded with overt messages from the very object that America adores so much. In fact, according to a study done by the American Psychiatric Association, an average teenager by his/her 18 th birthday will see 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence in movies and on television. It is quite obvious that these companies don’t realize that their programming is causing teen violence. According to Leonard Eron, Senior Research Scientist at the University of Michigan, television is responsible for ten percent of teen violence, which is obviously immoral.
Also, a study of 2001-2002 television shows revealed that 64 percent of shows had some sort of sexual innuendo contained in them while one in seven had an actual portrayal of intercourse (“Facts and TV Statistics”). Kids learn by example, and the example television is setting for them with such sexual messages is causing underage sex to flourish. Perhaps even more shocking is that as reported by the London School of Economics in a 2002 study, 90 percent of eight to 16 year olds have seen pornographic material on the internet, mostly by accident (“Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators”). This kind of solicitation is influencing children as young as eight to believe it is okay to take part in this sort of behavior when in actuality it is ripping apart the moral fiber of America.
America is heading down a downhill slope ready to collide with a tree if people aren’t willing to stand up and accept that morality is a problem within society. Parents need to become better role models to their children and show an interest in their child’s actions. Media must take greater steps to stop the spread of immorality on the internet and television (however it still is the parents’ responsibility to monitor their kid’s activities). When these two influences begin to turn for the better, then negative peer pressure may turn positive. If society starts to take leaps to reverse this downfall that has engulfed America, then crime rates, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, divorce rates, and other problems in society will no longer be such in America. But if this trend continues, the traditional values that were practiced by generations before this one will have no place in society and chaos will ensue.
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