It's 10 o'clock. Do you know where your children are?
A growing number of Americans cannot answer that question. Whether it is 10 o'clock at night or 10 o'clock in the morning, so many parents are at loss when comes to knowledge of their children's activities. Overworked and overstressed, parents have become more engrossed in their own lives than in the lives of those over whom they have responsibility. And as long as the police aren't paying them housecalls, these parents mistakenly assume that their children will sort of "raise themselves." The consequences of this "out of sight-out of mind" parenting have been devastating. And the anecdotal evidence of this devastation is just now surfacing.
In a February Talk magazine article entitled "The Sex Lives of your Children," Lucinda Franks speaks to children as young as 13, who detail the lurid acts of sexual activity in which they engage, all unbeknownst to their parents. Would you believe that some grammar school kids are not only aware of the colloquial terminology related to sexual intercourse, but that they are so adept that they even orally copulate one another?
A recent episode of PBS's award-winning investigative series Frontline exposed a rash of extreme behavior amongst teenagers in Rockdale County, Georgia, an upper middle-class suburb outside of Atlanta. Healthcare workers were alarmed when they found an outbreak of Syphilis in the county's teen population. Investigation traced this outbreak to behavior that included outright orgiastic gatherings of drinking, drug abuse and sexual encounters with multiple partners.
And of course, the most shocking consequences to date, have been the school shootings throughout the United States, in which troubled young men have emptied their rage and discontent onto innocent classmates.
So why should Muslims care beyond having the expected concern for the state of humanity? Because some of these troubled teens belong to the ranks of the Muslims and some Muslim youth are being influenced daily by such behavior.
Muslims often walk the streets of America with a "holier than thou" attitude that places deviant behavior exclusively in the realm of the non-Muslim. But truth be told, the very same pressures that lead 13 year-olds to drink beer and "hook-up" for casual sex, weigh just as heavily on Muslim children.
There are approximately 6 million Muslims in the United States and only some 60-70 Muslim schools. Simple arithmetic suggests that tens of thousands of Muslim youths are exposed to the mainstream cultural undertow typically associated with public school education. And of course Muslims should not forget that enrollment in an Islamic school is no guarantee of shelter from negative societal influence.
The message here is that parenting is done in the home -- not at school, not at the mosque. And if parents are not vigilant about all the subtle influences creeping into and exerting pressure upon their children's lives, they will soon find themselves fighting battles they once reserved for non-Muslim families whose kids watch too much television.
For all the skeptics, I will close with an example from my life. I once knew a Muslim girl whose father was a devout. She once bragged that he was the type of person who would pray in the middle of a Safeway supermarket if necessary. Yet, despite all of his religious observances, this girl was one of the most promiscuous people I ever knew.
It happens to the best of us.
Never underestimate the power of denial.
Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com