By S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - Two Catholic moms from Lincoln have launched a campaign to protect kids from seeing pornography at one of the most common destinations for any family: the local grocery store.
Many parents have experienced the chagrin of ushering young children past the bawdy magazine covers that typically line check-out lanes, right at a kids’ eye level. And even parents of older children should be concerned when magazines display images that dehumanize women, which could lead to pornography addictions, skewed ideas about feminine beauty and other serious issues.
Patricia Bucknor, a mother of four and St. Joseph parishioner, became keenly aware of the problem with grocery store check-out lanes after a friend’s family told her they had read and discussed the book, “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids,” by Kristen A. Jenson. The book helps children and parents identify inappropriate images.
“Whenever my friend brings her daughter to the grocery store, the little girl always points out the magazines and tells her mom that those pictures are pornography,” Mrs. Bucknor lamented. “It was definitely time for me to stand up and say something.”
She spoke to the manager of the HyVee store she frequents, and they agreeably began putting opaque covers over several of the magazines Bucknor cited.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Davis of St. Teresa Parish was doing her best to shield her own seven children from immodest magazine covers in grocery store check-out lanes. Thinking that she was powerless to change store policy, Mrs. Davis took to flipping offensive magazines over so that the back cover would show instead.
“One day I went to turn a magazine around and the image on the back was equally inappropriate,” she recalled. “I found this extremely frustrating. What messages are these magazines sending my children?”
She, too, began asking managers to cover up certain magazine titles. Initially, her efforts failed, but persistence and going above the managers’ heads to the store director finally resulted in a change.
In time, Father Sean Kilcawley, director of the Family Life Office, discovered the two women shared a common cause and introduced them. The women eagerly collaborated, and the Family Friendly Aisle Campaign was officially launched.
The idea behind the campaign is to speak with store managers and directors in person, on the phone or via email to make them aware of the problem and request a change.
“Sometimes I find just mentioning it to a manager will not result in any change. It’s important to follow up with a call or email to the store director,” Davis said.
They give the stores titles of specific magazines that routinely feature inappropriate images and headlines on the cover. Most are women’s magazines, but as Davis noted, “Exercise magazines can also be inappropriate.”
The women report that most store managers and directors respond positively.
“Our request is reasonable,” Davis stated. “We are moms who spend hundreds at their stores to feed our families. And I believe most people would agree that the covers of these inappropriate magazines do not belong at our children’s eye level.”
Stores are purchasing the opaque covers at their own expense, so the ladies encourage customers who see family friendly aisles to thank the manager.
“We want to show them we’ve noticed they covered magazines and are grateful,” said Davis.
Bucknor and Davis said they hope the grassroots campaign will spread as moms in other towns advocate for family-friendly check-out lanes. Recently, their campaign was featured on the blog, “The Catholic Wife.”
“We are happy to help and encourage anyone who would like to do this in their town,” Davis said. “We’ve learned it is as simple as speaking up and asking stores to cover inappropriate magazines.”
Her advice: “Keep it positive and don’t be afraid to speak up.”
She added, “Having specific examples to provide the manager is helpful as they might not be aware of the magazines.”
Davis also recommends “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures” as a teaching resource for families, which she learned about from Father Kilcawley.
“As a mother, I appreciate how it teaches children what to do when they see an inappropriate image; a useful strategy when they tag along for grocery runs,” she said.
“We understand the sacred gift of sexuality and that what our society promotes is wrong,” she added.
At the Davis household, the family talks about the dignity that each of them have been given as children of God, and what that means in terms of dressing modestly and respecting themselves and others. They’ve also had the difficult discussion about pornography and society’s misuse of sex.
“As parents we know we’re up against a society that pushes sex at anyone and everyone,” Davis continued. “We know it’s important to teach them young, before the culture reaches them.”
She concluded, “It’s our job to arm our children with knowledge and love.”