If I could, I would provide every parent, teenager, college student, policy maker, teacher, school administrator, and military service member with a copy of Elayne Bennett’s brand new book, Daughters in Danger: Helping Our Daughters Thrive in Today’s Culture. This book is meant to educate and inform everyone on the dangers that are out there for our children. As Catholic parents this takes on a whole new dimension. I will start with giving a brief overview of the book and then I will end with some of my own personal experience that shapes why I am so passionate about this book. There will be a Giveaway on CatholicMom.com on Saturday, . There are 4 copies to give away. So, stay tuned!
Elayne Bennett founded the “Best Friends” program which is a peer based program for middle school and high school students. The aim of the program is to teach students to avoid risky behavior such as: premarital and promiscuous sex, drinking, drug use, gang involvement etc. The goal is that students will encourage on another in avoiding these risky behaviors. The program has been a great success, especially in inner city schools in Washington, DC. Why did Elayne feel the need to begin this program?
First, sex education programs are largely driven by major lobbies including drug companies who are pushing contraception, and organizations like Planned Parenthood. When President Obama took office in 2008 all federal funding was cut from abstinence based programs. That means if your child is in a public school, they are being taught sexuality from a standpoint that is diametrically opposed to Catholic teaching. Your child is more likely to learn how to put a condom on, or where to get birth control, than why teenagers should wait to engage in sexual activity until marriage. In fact, some schools encourage sexual activity. It is that adage, “they are going to do it anyway”. Regardless of the startling statistics on rates of STDs, teenage pregnancy, abortion, poverty rates, fatherlessness, and crime, she provides many studies to back up her observations over the years; policy makers choose ideology over reality.
Since risky behavior is accepted, it translates well into the binge drinking culture of most colleges (and the military). Young women walk into this culture unprepared for the risks and consequences. Young men are also not prepared. Women are told from an early age that they are equal in body strength to a man. This denies biology and nature. Your typical 19 year old girl will be easily overpowered by a 19 year old boy if he is intent on assaulting her. With binge drinking on campuses more and more sexual assaults are occurring, and even murders. There are even popular books geared towards young males that brag and encourage the objectification and use of women. She gives in-depth examples that are startling to me, as the mother of a daughter.
The prevalence of pornography is also a major issue. Young men are told by our society that pornography is normal, even if it is extremely violent. This is not just true of men. Look at how many women read 50 Shades of Grey. This is also pornography. The more violent pornography becomes, the more aggressive young men can become. In reading pornographic books, women begin to think that violent sex is actually normal. This endangers our daughters, as well. It also deeply hurts our sons and their ability to carry on a healthy relationship and marry. Almost every serial killer or serial rapist has confessed to being addicted to pornography. Men who have murdered girlfriends also tend to use pornography. Pornography is a great threat to our children.
The amount of research in this book is encouraging and discouraging at the same time. It tells us that something has to be done, but that we have little power in policy decisions currently. What it does, however, is reinforce the Catholic belief that it is parents who must teach their children morality, as it is informed by Catholic teaching, and that we are the only ones who can start change at the grass roots level. We must demand good programs for our children at the local school level. After all, we pay taxes. I would ask you: First, do you know what your children are learning in sex education? Have you discussed pornography with your children? Have you reinforced an authentic notion of feminism, not one that makes men and women the same, but one that says that men and women are equal and complimentary? Have you warned about the dangers of binge drinking? Have you kept your child from underage drinking rather than enabled it? Does you child know what to do in a dangerous situation? This book will help you to understand what your children will face as they go out on their own, or what they may witness in school.
I am passionate about this book because I know it is absolutely true. I have witnessed what she writes about first hand. My first experience of meeting a girl who was being beaten by her boyfriend was when I was 15 years old. I was not equipped to help her because I had not learned how to respond to these situations in a school setting. I should have reported it, but I didn’t. The first time I met a woman who had been raped was when I was 18 years old. I then met woman after woman who had either been sexually or physically abused by a family member, friend, or boyfriend, or had been raped. In fact, I have known so many women who have been through this that I can sense it based on what a woman tells me about herself. Binge drinking, promiscuity, and pornography were rampant when I was in the military. Don’t kid yourself; there is very little difference between military barracks and college dorms. I spent time hanging out (in a group setting) with two guys who ended up stabbing a girl shortly before I went on to my next assignment when I was in the Navy. Thank God she lived and they were convicted of attempted murder. What Elayne Bennett writes about in her book IS REAL. My hometown is Billings, MT. I have lived all over this country and in Europe. It is everywhere.
We must not live in fear and terror. Knowledge is power. And, yes, my life experiences may differ vastly from your own, but we cannot pretend that there are not numerous dangers that await our children. Our culture is out of control. We cannot depend on teachers, policymakers, and school administrators to do the right thing. We must act in the best interests of our children. We must educate ourselves so that we can counter the tide of secularism that will eventually wash over our children. As Catholic parents, we must raise them with a firm understanding of Catholic teaching on the human person and sexuality. Our duty as Catholic parents is to lead our children to Heaven. A tall order to be sure, but I believe this book will help all parents on this quest. We must teach our children authentic feminism and what love really means. I would highly encourage you to read some of the following books:
Theology of the Body Institute has numerous resources: tobinstitute.org
We must arm ourselves with Christ and with knowledge. God bless you and your family. Buy this book!
Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.
Copyright 2014 Constance Hull