Culture Of Fear Essay, Research Paper
Why Americans Fear The Wrong Things
Why are so many fears profuse in today’s society, and so many of them unproven? People are so easily persuaded by media that they are vicarious in their thoughts. People can’t conform to the fact or truth in a situation because media has played such a vast role in humanity. I have chosen the chapter on Monster Moms. In the following paragraphs I will show how easily mankind is influenced by these means of misleading media in correlation to the text on Monster Moms.
On countless occasions in the past, well-known liberals including Jesse Jackson, Joyceln Elders, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan and conservatives such as Dan Quayle and Bill Bennett all blamed teen moms for “destroying civilization.” Journalists referred to young motherhood as a “cancer” and forewarned that they “breed criminals faster than society can jail them.” Stephen Caldas, a policy analyst, wrote in an educational research journal that, “the lower the education levels of mothers who began childbearing as teenagers translates into lower work force productivity and diminished wages, resulting in a weaker, less competitive economy.” Basically he was saying that you could hold teen moms responsible for America’s decreasing position in the world economy.
I disagree along with the author of The Culture Of Fear, by Barry Glassner. These allegations are absurd. Women do not have the capacity to destroy America. Teen moms are not responsibly for the decline in America’s position in the world economy but the decline in America’s position in the world economy is responsibly for teen pregnancy.
Children who are enrolled in poor schooling do not have the opportunity to acquire a respectable, high-class, noble job. Therefore, they have fewer motives to delay sex or practice contraception. Preexisting circumstances are a main issue in dealing with this problem. In a study at the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Sex and America’s teenager, completed in 1994, at least eighty percent of the teenage moms were poor before they became pregnant. The most imperative conditions are predominantly poverty and poor educational opportunities and abilities.
In fact some experts convey information that young women tend to become more motivated to finish school and find jobs once they have children to support. Not only are they more motivated to finish school and find a job but they have the need to obtain a career and make a decent living in order to support their offspring. Statistics also reveal that adolescent moms are less probable than their peers to engage in drug abuse and other self-destructive behaviors. Sociologist Joan Moore, an expert on delinquent girls, calls this relationship “a conversion to conventionality.” (Joan Moore, Going Down to the Barrio (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), p. 114)
One of the crucial reasons why teenage moms have been demoted is because they get little recognition. This is partially because people of authority do their best to make their accomplishments invisible. For example, two student mothers with grade-point averages of 3.9 and 3.7 on a scale of 4.0 were denied membership in the National Honor Society. These students were told they did not meet the requirements, that is the “character” requirements. The admissions committee announced that they did not want other girls in the organization to look at the teen mothers as role models. Stigma’s placed on young mothers are inappropriate. Another stereotype of young motherhood is that they are incapable of raising healthy children. Researchers have documented that teenagers that have in fact cared for younger siblings are sometimes more pragmatic in their feelings about parenthood and more dedicated to parenting than older parents.
More labels are placed on single parent households claiming that the children often end up in jail. Newspaper correspondents called illegitimacy “the smoking gun in a sickening array of pathologies-crime, drug abuse, mental, and physical illness, welfare dependency” (Joe Klein in Newsweek) and “an unprecedented national catastrophe” (David Broder in the Washington Post). Another columnist stated, “before we can have crime control, we need to have birth control” (Richard Cohen in the Washington Post). He also declared that illegitimacy is “a national security issue.”
Studies that compare single-parent households and two-parent households of similar levels of education and income find few differences in the outcome of the children. The majority of children of single mothers don’t become criminals, drug addicts, mentally ill, or security threats. An experiment that observed 23,000 adult men discovered that those raised by single parent mothers had both income and education levels roughly equivalent to those raised by two parent families. Also children of single moms have a tendency to advance better emotionally and socially than do offspring from high-conflict marriages or from those in which the father is emotionally absent or abusive. Exaggerations about the effects of unwed motherhood on children stigmatize those children and provoke teachers and police, among others, to treat them with skepticism. The teachers tended to rate the “illegitimate” children less favorably.
Fathers are also a big issue in how the media misleads the publics view. A front page story in the New York Times stated, “Over all, children in homes without fathers are more likely to be poor, to drop out of high school and to end up in foster care or juvenile-justice programs than are those living with their fathers.” Washington Post: “Growing up without a father is like being in a car with a drunk driver.” To insist that children are essentially better off with fathers regardless of whom their fathers are or how they behave is to suggest that no single mother can adequately raise a child. Which is not true.
Research on divorce shows that the foremost negative influences on children are conflicts between parents before the divorce and the loss of the father’s income after the divorce, rather than absence of the father. A child is not better off with a father that is for example abusive or is a drug user, or an alcoholic. The child is better off with someone who is going to give the best care that that child needs and deserves. In some cases this could mean no father at all or no mother. Studies also show that children of divorced parents who live with their mothers have found no significant improvements in school and no improvements in behavior when the children’s father visits more often.
Another example of how the media completely deceived Americans is in the case of a woman from South Carolina named Susan Smith. Susan Smith was the woman who had strapped her two children in their car seats and let the car roll in the lake. The first week the story came out reporters were tricked along with the rest of the world that Susan Smith had been carjacked by a black man who took her kids. The following week when the truth came out all the pleasant comments given by the reporters instantly vanished. All the loving remarks and descriptions that journalists had been printing about her classmates voting her “friendliest senior” of the class of 1989, and her teachers portraying her as “a good kid,” or the neighbor who said, “I saw the love that they had for these children,” were no longer discussed. The words and phrases that were published before America realized the truth were very deceiving and misleading. The media really swindled the opinions of many American’s.
Donna Shalala proclaimed in 1996 that the number of children abused and neglected by their parents had doubled during a seven-year period. She said that the numbers rose from 1.4 million to 2.8 million, and the number of seriously abused children had quadrupled from about 143,000 to nearly 570,000. Shalala also emphasized that children of single parents are twice as likely to be harmed. However, evidence shows that rates of child abuse had not increased as severely as Donna Shalala had pointed out. Statistics from the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse showed that the number of fatalities resulting from child abuse had increased by only two hundred during the seven-year period. The number of deaths in 1986 as a result from child abuse was 1,014 and in 1993 there were 1,216 deaths. If the number of children who had been abused supposedly quadruped then the deaths should have also increased by a significantly large number as well. Shalala’s study also states that there was a “skyrocketing” increase in child abuse when in reality it is only mere expectations of abuse.
“Fear mongers have knocked the optimism out of us by stuffing us full of negative presumptions about our fellow citizens and social institutions.” We waste billions of dollars on mythical hazards like road rage and on technology to make airline travel-which is already safer than other means of transportation-still safer. We as a society must work together and not be so easily persuaded by media. (Barry Glassner 210)