Baseball91's Weblog

December 3, 2009

Those Numbers Concerning Sexting

An Associated Press-MTV poll has found more than a quarter of young people have been involved in some form of sexting — sharing by cell phone or online sexually explicit photos, videos and chat — despite the sometimes grim consequences involving conviction in some states for those who do it, with lifelong registration as a sex offender.

This news story comes this week as I heard Rick Steves do a travel show on public television. He said that the most compelling moment of his piece was when an Iranian woman crossed the street to tell him that she did not want her daughter to grow up to be like Britney Spears. That, Steeves said, was the universal human conflict in the secular world. It was the same conflict which defined American politics.

It was 12 months ago that I wrote this piece. Read it again in light of todays’ Associated Press-MTV poll about sexting.

In the age of abundance, with an abundance of ideas, in the ongoing age of ideology, comes a story about a survey by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute –an organization that foster in “all sectors of society a healthy development and thriving among children and adolescents” –of a group of young people who are “spiritual,” who are not at all religious. A newly released Search Institute survey of 6,853 young people ages 12 to 25 indicates that 55 percent of the respondents are spiritual, not at all religious. Miriam Cameron, a University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing professor, said the results confirm what she has observed in her classes. Nearly one-third of these young people said they don’t trust organized religion.

“Spirituality is bigger than religion,” said co-director of the institute’s Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence, Peter Benson. “One of the things we have to focus now is disentangling spiritual development from religious development.” According to the website, Dr. Benson became Search Institute’s president in 1985. Prior to 1978, he was chair of the psychology department and chair of the program in human development and social relations at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. He hold a Masters in the psychology of religion from Yale University. In an age of ideology, I wonder the reason it is, the basis that Yale offers a Master’s program in the psychology of religion, so that years later we can get these survey results. It sounds like Dr. Benson’s focus is funding his own program, and creating a need along the way, with the help of corporate sponsors.

Most students pay tuition to listen, read, and study what the experts have to say. Except those on scholarship. “We’re not paying enough attention to what our kids are saying,” Gene Roehlkepartain, co-director of the institute’s Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence said. “We need to listen more and talk less.” Yeah, Gene Roehlkepartain. Buy you kid another Ipod. You were not supposed to worship your kids, Gene. Why are kids, ages 12 to 25, being asked this nonsense? Your kids might not like taking physics or calculus either. These are the years you are supposed to have passed on a tradition that they had to learn. My 30-month old niece does not like to eat vegetables. Or potatoes. She has to anyway. Yeah Gene! How can we disentangle God and His history, from religious development, from spiritual development? Can we hold class outside?

Nearly one-third of these young people said they don’t trust organized religion. Do they provide locks at their church? What did they lose? Was it another kid or organized religion that stole their cellphone? What else did they not trust? Were any other questions ever asked?

If you ever were looking for an arsonist, you started focusing on 3 factors: Motive. Opportunity. Accelerants. Search Institute mission statement is collaborating with partners (foundations, corporations, schools, communities, faith-based organizations, and other systems) to broaden and deepen commitments, capacity, and effectiveness in fostering healthy development and thriving among children and adolescents.
In this case the Search Institute, Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence who funded the study, hopes to profit from their own survey, based upon their website. This was not exactly the Gallup Poll, where surveyors had disinterest. Search Institute would seem to aim at a secular society, to add to the divison between religions, serving “all sectors of society, including K–12 and higher education, faith communities, youth-serving organizations, social-service organizations, families, businesses, and the public sector.”

According to the news article, “The disconnect between spirituality and religion” was clear in the comments from young people. Drawing a line between spirituality and religion, University of Minnesota senior David Horn said, spirituality ‘doesn’t make distinctions, and religion is all about making distinctions.’” It sounds like the issue once again is relativism. Religion was providing an absolute moral authority. Distinguishing right from wrong. And this did not seem fair.

Or maybe the young, educated in secular schools without any religious training, are ignorant about specific belief, and the history of a belief. Even by the time they get to college and are thought to be the best and the brightest. Serving “all sectors of society,” the survey either shows the need in society for more teaching of theology and philosophy, or the need to encourage ignorance. Most Doctors of Divinity spend time actually studying theology and philosophy before they are allowed to teach and preach.

Speaking as the daughter of a minister, Miriam Cameron said she doesn’t think religions needs to feel threatened by the growth of spirituality. “Not at all. Many of my students equate religion with dogma and spirituality with harmony. Spirituality works well with most religions. The only ones it doesn’t work with are the angry people who say that everyone else’s image of God is wrong. … The spiritual view of God is much more inclusive.” Dr. Cameron’s viewpoint seems to include an American culture bias and fails to see the dimension of spirituality that is fueling the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. From my reading, Islamic dogma was not responsible for the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, as one example. Dr. Cameron seemingly does not believe there can be anger among those of the New Age “spiritual,” not religious. Dissecting her comment, she mixes apples with people and oranges, when she begins to discuss angry people in the midst of th discussion of spirituality and religions.

Few religious professionals would equate dogma with theology.

One of the things I came away with studying history, was that the human condition remains unchanged. Two hundred years ago there were slaves in this country. Actually in a lot of places. A lot of people never really asked the “why” question. My conclusion is that the basic human condition involves a degree of laziness. There were slaves because landowners were lazy. That laziness, to one degree or another, was still around.

“If that’s the way they really feel,” said the director of youth ministry for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Terry Dittmer, said, “it means that we have some serious questions that we need to ask ourselves.” It is the Missouri synod’s fault? Or maybe Mr. Ditmer is looking for a new response in the growing secular world.

Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill for or die for, and no religion too. Mr. Lennon, I don’t have to imagine much any more.

The Center for Spiritual Development concluded its report with a suggestion that the place to start is with conversations, asking young people open-ended questions such as, “What is most important in your life?” and “What does being spiritual mean to you?” I actually would start with the basics. Like asking about God before asking what spiritual meant. Like asking about the Greatest Commandment. Do you know God? Do you want to know God? Do you want to make an academic commitment to study God? You might have to buy a book and actually spend some time.

In other news, according to Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics institute, which surveyed 29,760 students over the past year at 100 random high schools nationwide, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test. That is a lot of stealing. I wonder if this was by the same nearly one-third of the young people who said they don’t trust organized religion.

These surveys give me pause to quote a high school biology teacher: “If ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”

Perhaps those grim consequences involving conviction in some states for those do sexting, with lifelong registration as a sex offender, will call the question as to public policy that keeps some sins subject to public notice to neighbors. Where there is no registration kept on those convicted of homocide.

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1 Comment »

  1. http://www.canoncitydailyrecord.com/ci_29078308/canon-city-high-school-principal-students-hid-nude

    Cañon City School District (Colorado) Superintendent George Welsh said “a large number” of high school football players were involved in an ‘alleged’ incident and caused the team to forfeit Saturday’s season finale. The alleged exchange of nude photographs between “a number” of students in the district was described in the singular.

    “… The coaching staff and administration, after careful thought and consideration, decided that stepping on the field to play this weekend to represent the Cañon City community is just not an option,” the school superintendent stated. “Though we realize this decision will unfairly penalize many of our fine young men who clearly did not participate in these actions, we concluded it was impossible to safely field an entire team representative of the personal qualities and characteristics that truly represent the history of the Cañon City High School football program.”

    Only an ‘alleged incident’ at this point in time, because the investigation is only in its early stages. The school superintendent declined to say how many students have been suspended or expelled as a result of the investigation to date. Additional students may face discipline, he said, because the investigation is still in its early stages. There were more pictures for the school staff to go through. To identify who was in the child porn, which did not seem like child porn to the kids. And of course the school superintendent got the District Attorney involved.

    District Attorney Thom LeDoux announced that possession of child pornography is a felony. But if he chooses to prosecute a child, he’ll take other elements into consideration. And of the National Sex Offender Registry, the district attorney said, “We certainly have no intentions of requiring a juvenile to register unless it is absolutely necessary.” So he is going to discriminate, based upon some kind of unstated guideline?

    There are 16,400 people who live in this town, with possibly “several hundred victims” of this ‘incident’ per Cañon City Police Chief Paul Schultz said, as representation of the community in football was no longer an option, even for the fine young men of the town.

    “This is a major investigation,” the police chief said. “…We are hoping that 30 days from now, we will have made significant headway in this investigation.”

    Two phones so far have been confiscated, according to the high school principal.

    “I can honestly tell you that we’re formulating lists, and we turn those over to the PD, and it’s all running through them,” said principal Brett Meuli. “We know there’s hundreds of photos. It was flooring to us on how many photos that we were finding on the phones that have been confiscated.”

    Why the phones are being confiscated — on what probable cause under the U S Constitution, might be one day discussed in the American history class. Will students be required to register if they have phones? Will every phone call by a student in the school district be reviewed via the NSA records. IS that what the district attorney is working out with the local police chief, high school principal, middle school principal and with George Welsh, the school superintendent.

    Meuli told a news conference — attended by Susan Payne, director of Safe 2 Tell for the Colorado General Attorney’s office — that he didn’t know if photos were taken at school. He also didn’t know how long nude photo sharing has been going on inside Cañon City. So every minute of life is of concern to this overlord of youth in Cañon City … or at least those who had cell phones and data plans. And where exactly is the jurisdiction of the principal — not the police — to be examining what is called child porn? And no one, not even a school principal is empowered to look at child porn, unless involved on the police side of investigation. This is like the Roman Catholic Church investigating their own allegations of sexual abuse. Yes, the vigilantes are alive and well in Colorado. And the principal should be charged as a sex offender, for not immediately turning over these phones to a credentialed police officer.

    And if anyone in this Colorado town believed in the bill of rights like freedom of the press — the local newspape was listing separate phone numbers for male students and female students to call to get on the Sex Offender Register, for life. Because “a person can be charged with a class 3 felony if they have taken a picture of themselves showing a naked private body part and sent it to another person, have received such a picture and forwarded it to another person, or have received such a picture and retained possession of it over time,” according to the news release.

    Comment by baseball91 — November 7, 2015 @ 1:10 AM | Reply


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