Where Have All the Morals Gone?
While shopping at the mall, 16-year-old Sarah strolls into Abercrombie and Fitch to peruse the racks. On her way out, she passes a giant poster of a sexy couple caressing each other’s bare skin, with lips so close they’re almost kissing. She drives home and parks herself on the couch, grabs a remote, and turns on MTV. The song “Glad You Came” pounds through the speakers, and the music video flashes scene after scene of arousing images, all centered around the attractive male band members partying, finding a hot girl, making out or even showering with the girl, and, Sarah assumes, sleeping with her. The looks on their faces the next morning reveal no signs of regret or negative consequences.
After an Axe commercial, where bikini-clad women almost remove their tops, Jersey Shore comes on. She witnesses drunkenness, sex, provocative clothing, materialism, and overall bad decision-making. She knows it’s stupid but she can’t stop watching. Once it’s over, she turns off the TV and heads to her room to grab the newest book in the Gossip Girl series she’s just purchased. Mere pages into it, she is bombarded with tantalizing tales of young girls drinking, doing drugs, blowing money, and having sex.
What message is being hammered home to Sarah? What does she think is normal and even acceptable for people her age?
Sadly, immorality in our world has become so commonplace that we often don’t stop to think how it affects our youth. Teens are assaulted on a daily basis with obscene images, lewd behavior, degenerate role models, and perverse messages. Even media that isn’t blatantly immoral, like The Disney Channel, in the very least makes kids doing “bad” things seem normal.
It’s no wonder sex is thought of by most teens as a casual act that is perfectly normal for someone still in high school or that drinking and partying is simply a part of growing up. Being an adolescent and having drunken “fun” go hand in hand.
So what are we to do? We can’t stop everyone from producing immoral media. But we can offer them more positive alternatives. True, there are books, TV shows, songs, and movies that have positive messages and that aren’t harmful for a teenager’s moral well-being. But they are few and far-between, and many of them lack the intrigue that’s offered by the more inappropriate media.
This dilemma was my biggest motivation for writing Shadow Eyes. I wanted to offer our youth something positive they could emulate. Something that offered an appealing reality that promoted healthy messages on relevant issues. Something that revealed what was truly behind immoral behavior – evil. The key to writing this young adult novel was that I needed to make sure it was still provocative and enticing enough for teens to be drawn to it and enjoy, while still keeping the story’s integrity and moral structure.
Based on the feedback I’ve been getting so far, I feel I’ve accomplished that. To be honest, there are some questionable, even somewhat explicit, scenes, so I wouldn’t suggest children under 13 reading it. However, all of the immoral behavior is shown in a negative light, in contrast to many popular young adult books on the market today. As the main character, Iris, makes mistakes and finds herself in sticky situations, the reader identifies with Iris and inadvertently learns the morals and lessons along with her.
As a high school teacher and youth sponsor at my church, I have a strong passion for young people and the issues and struggles they deal with. They need guidance. They need positive role models. And they need alternatives to what the media is currently offering them.
If you’d like more information on my young adult urban fantasy Shadow Eyes, the first of a planned series, click on the Shadow Eyes page on the right for the synopsis, click on the cover to buy the book (also available at major book websites), check out its reviews on goodreads, amazon, and musapublishing.com, or watch the trailer by clicking the violet eye on the right.