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CULTURE DIGEST: Parents favor new limits on prime-time TV

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–As the level of decency continues to decline on both broadcast and cable television, a study has found most parents are concerned enough to favor new regulations to limit the amount of sex and violence in TV shows during the early evening hours.

The Kaiser Family Foundation said 60 percent of parents are “very” concerned about the amount of sex on television these days, and 53 percent are as concerned about the levels of violence. Nearly two-thirds of parents say they favor new regulations to curb such excess, with 35 percent are opposed, according to a Sept. 23 news release.

Television is the communication medium that most concerns parents overall, with 34 percent indicating it is the most dangerous to children. Sixteen percent said the Internet most concerns them; 10 percent said movies; 7 percent, music; and 5 percent, video games.

All television sets manufactured since January 2000 are required to include the V-Chip, which allows parents to screen what their children watch, but just 15 percent of all parents have used it. One in four say they haven’t bought a new TV since that time, 39 percent have purchased a new TV but don’t think it includes a V-Chip, and 20 percent know they have a V-Chip but haven’t used it, the study found. Among those who know they have a V-Chip, 42 percent have used it, and 61 percent of them said they found it “very” useful.

Kaiser asked parents specifically about the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident. Only 17 percent said they were “very” concerned about the impact of the incident on their children.

“What concerns parents most is not isolated incidents, but the sex and violence they believe their kids are exposed to every day in the shows they regularly watch,” said Vicky Rideout, vice president and director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program for the Study of Entertainment Media and Health.

In related news, the Parents Television Council is calling for concerned citizens to file yet another indecency complaint against CBS, this time for allowing a word for male-female relations to be broadcast on a prime-time network show. A character on “Big Brother 5” said the word on the Sept. 17 episode, and CBS failed to bleep it out, PTC said, noting the incident occurred in the 8 p.m. time slot, which is considered the “family hour.” Information about how to respond is available at www.parentstv.org.

VIRGINITY PLEDGES DO MATTER — Despite a New York Times article this year that said teenage virginity pledges are rarely kept, a new study by the Heritage Foundation says teens who make such pledges have substantially lower levels of sexual activity and better life outcomes than those who don’t.

According to a Sept. 21 news release, adolescents who make a pledge to remain sexually abstinent until marriage:

— Are less likely to experience teen pregnancy.

— Are less likely to be sexually active while in high school and as young adults.

— Are less likely to give birth as teens or young adults.

— Are less likely to give birth out of wedlock.

— Are less likely to engage in risky unprotected sex.

— Will have fewer sexual partners.

“Overall, making a virginity pledge is strongly associated with a wide array of positive behaviors and outcomes while having no negative effects,” the news release said. “The findings presented in this study strongly suggest that virginity pledges and similar abstinence education programs have the potential to substantially reduce teen sexual activity, teen pregnancy and out-of-wedlock childbearing.”

For a complete report on the study, go to http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/wm570.cfm.

FAITH HILL RECEIVES AWARD FROM BAPTISTS — Singer Faith Hill was presented with the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes’ first-ever Sheltering Hand Award during a ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 23.

Hill received the award in recognition of her success as an adopted child and her support for the children cared for by Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, which is based in Brentwood, Tenn.

“No single child should ever go unloved,” Hill said at the ceremony, according to CMT.com. “And they should know that they have a chance and they have a purpose. And I promise you that as I stand here tonight accepting the most remarkable award that I have ever been given, that I will do everything in my physical and spiritual power to make sure that happens.”

Hill grew up attending Star Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Star, Miss., and has won four Grammys and numerous other awards for her work as a country and pop artist.

MAYOR DALEY SEEKS HELP FROM CHURCHES — Chicago Mayor Richard Daley wants the help of local houses of worship in his effort to end homelessness in the city, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Daley is asking churches, synagogues and mosques to support homeless families by committing to pay their rent for at least a year.

In January 2003, the mayor kicked off a 10-year plan to wipe out homelessness, but the number of those without homes has not changed since that time and still stands at 10,000.

Mayor Daley’s initiative calls for the city to screen and assess potential candidates for rent sponsorship before passing the needs along to people of faith. The city estimates 1,500 families would be ready for such assistance immediately.

The mayor’s liaison on homelessness told the Sun-Times that churches would be better able than a city agency to personalize assistance for individuals and could provide a community structure in which to work.

HERE AND THERE — After winning the crown, Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” Sept. 24. Downs presented the night’s Top 10 list, called “Top Ten Things I Hope to Accomplish as Miss America.” Number 9 was, “Blow scholarship money on beer and fireworks.” Downs is a graduate of Samford University and attends Baptist Church of the Covenant in Birmingham, Ala.

— The Egyptian Parliament has asked that Madonna not be granted any visas to enter Egypt and that she be barred from performing and shooting videos in the country. MSNBC.com reported that the proposed ban stems from Madonna’s pursuit of Kabbalah, a mystical study of Judaism, and from her recent pilgrimage to Israel to celebrate the Jewish New Year.

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  • Erin Curry