Saints Be Praised

What Catholicism Says to Our Coarsened Culture

Age ten is the new fifteen, according to the Associated Press, which reports that teen rebellion and multiple body piercings have migrated all the way down to elementary school: “Some of them are going on ‘dates’ and talking on their own cell phones’’ in the fifth grade. “They listen to sexually charged pop music, play mature-rated video games, and spend time gossiping on MySpace.’’ As the mother of ten-year-old twins, a girl and a boy, I have heard of no “dates.” But the rest sounds about right, I’m afraid. I have seen girls my daughter’s age in T-shirts that say the rudest things, and hear (often) from my son about classmates who at least claim to play a video game based on the HBO show The Sopranos. Road to Respect, they call it, as if to torture parents all the more.

“We’ve crossed a line—we can no longer avoid it—it’s just so in our face,’’ Diane Levin, a professor of human development and early childhood at Wheelock College in Boston, says of all the marketing of inappropriate toys and games to kids. She has written a book about the impact this is having, So Sexy So Soon: The Sexualization of Childhood. All I can say is, I cannot even imagine going up against the culture without the saints on my side.

My kids are not getting anything like the industrial-strength Catholic upbringing I had; they go to “religious education” classes instead of to parochial school and...

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About the Author

Melinda Henneberger, a Commonweal columnist, is the former editor-in-chief of