To the Editor:
My first feeling after reading the article, [Oak Bluffs School principal apologizes for PG-13 movie], in the Martha’s Vineyard Times on May 17 was that something horribly wrong had occurred at the Oak Bluffs School last Monday. Principal Richie Smith sounded as if he was apologizing for having committed a felony. To my astonishment, the uproar had been over the mere practice of showing a PG-13 movie to underaged students in school. The article notified the public that two Oak Bluffs fifth grade teachers showed their students the film “Hancock,” which happens to be rated PG-13, after the students’ completion of the MCAS exam on Monday, and that the principal of the Oak Bluffs School took full responsibility for this mishap.
Surprisingly, only a handful of individuals share my opinion that this ordeal seems overplayed. The majority of parents and community members have contributed to the hype. It seemed as if without the apology, enraged parents would have stormed the Oak Bluffs School and forced their children into a life of homeschooling, until they reached the ripe age of 13. This article and subsequent hysteria piqued my interest. How absurd it seemed that these distraught parents felt that their children would be better off witnessing PG-13 concepts on the streets rather than on the screen.
The idea that parents can control every first experience that their children have is a notion that, in reality, was put to rest a long time ago. Although parents yearn to be the ones that first introduce their offspring to every facet of popular culture and world experiences, this generation of parents has to be the first to learn that this need cannot be fulfilled. The circulation of these “inappropriate” subjects is passed down from older siblings, through television, the Internet, popular music, etc.
It’s impossible to shield a 10- or 11-year-old from concepts that are watched by children two to three years older than them. No matter how hard a parent tries to censor a 10-year-old from the world, the effort will fail. The world has become naturally less censored than when this generation of parents were children.
In addition, why do parents feel that they are better qualified to introduce such subjects to children than in the school environment? The idea that parents are the guardians of their children’s innocence has become one of the last bastions of naivete amongst post-baby boomer parents. It seems as if each generation of parents lets loose a bit of that concept of control, and finally we’re on the verge of letting the concept go entirely. The Oak Bluffs School’s “Hancock” ordeal is an omen in disguise, if only more adults would see it as one.