Most parents of school-age children are aware of Scholastic, either through flyers for buying books or through the colorful Scholastic News handouts with lessons on various topics for grades one through six. Their website states that it is read by over six million students each week. Common themes for non-fiction topics are "The Realities of Climate Change" or Islamic issues.
While not all of the materials Scholastic promotes are objectionable, there are many instances where the company promotes LGBTQ themes, sexually explicit materials and coarse language. What is most concerning for parents is that seemingly innocuous books can have these morally objectionable content hidden within it. Scholastic has been caught white-washing the content or omitting mature themes in their descriptions of their books.
Church Militant reached out to Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians, (ACP), who told us, "Absolutely!" when we asked if the constant bombardment of images of same-sex couples or transgender people is in fact "planting seeds" of confusion in young children.
Doctor Cretella dismissed the idea that children aren't harmed by viewing inappropriate content since the young children don't understand what they're seeing. "Children do not need to 'understand' what they see and hear in order to learn or become desensitized," she explained. "There is solid evidence that the sexualization of children through all forms of media leads to early sexual activity."
"Pedophiles use this fact to groom their intended victims through sexting or online pornography," Dr. Cretella stated.
In fact, the ACP's document, The Impact of Media Use and Screen Time on Children, Adolescents, and Families, explains the harm of inaccurate sexual information and early exposure to explicit materials. It explains, "Teens rank the media as the second leading source of information about sexual behavior (The first is school sex education)." The ACP also notes these messages are "often explicit but also inaccurate and misleading," adding, "Unfortunately, however, these messages are frequently accepted as truth by young people."
This can be seen in studies of the behavior of children who view explicit content. Not only do "[s]tudies reveal that the more an adolescent watches television programming featuring sexual content, the more likely that adolescent is to prematurely initiate sexual activity," but they found that "teens who were exposed to talk about sex on television experienced risks similar to those teens who viewed actual sexual behavior."
The ACP also blasts the Common Core standards that are influencing the types of books used in high school English classes. It states, "[S]ome books listed in Appendix B of the standards include pornographic sections containing graphic depictions of consensual and, more disturbingly, illegal sexual behavior (e.g., rape, incest, abuse, bestiality, pedophilia)."
While the ACP acknowledges the positive effects of reading, research on the impact of content in literature has only been recently initiated. Some research has found "a correlation between reading aggressive content in literature and subsequent increases in actual aggressive behavior." Other research in the field of neuroscience has found "[c]hanges in the connectivity between various regions of the brain" after reading a novel and "some of the changes persisted for several days after."
Cathy Gilmore, author, and founder of Virtue Inc. would agree with the long-lasting negative effects of immoral content. She told Church Militant, "But too often now, habitual exposure over time to a steady stream of bad content is enabling really powerful habits to block that grace, allowing negative spiritual strongholds to take hold in our kids and teens."
Gilmore told Church Militant, "As an author and educator, I saw that families needed a simple way to discover and some upbeat motivation to consume, good quality reading and entertainment that affirms faith and cultivates virtue." She said her guiding principle is "What we dwell on in our imagination is who we become. Virtue in ... virtue out!"
Gilmore says she has learned from families incorporating Virtue Works Media's V-List recommendations that "even if kids and teens are encountering some bad stuff, a steady stream of good content in the mix gives the young people an ability to discern the good from the bad."
She explains, "Too many families experience only spiritually empty or morally toxic content" and when families who teach their children to intentionally choose "morally nutritious content in what they read and watch," their children will be "stronger to be intentional about moral choices in what they say and do."