What Your Children Don’t Know Can Hurt Them
By Laura Kizior
We know that simply “being pro-life” is not enough to change the culture. Just studying the facts about how much abortion hurts women isn’t enough either. In order to build a culture of life in our society, students must be trained how to use their knowledge of pro-life topics to evangelize their peers.
We must take the responsibility of educating the next generation of pro-life leaders, for if we do not help them learn about the threats against human dignity, evils like abortion and euthanasia will only become more widespread. Understandably, parents want to protect their children from the lies and temptations of the culture of death, but letting your kids discover the culture of death on their own is not the solution. Book knowledge is not enough; a good pro-life education consists of learning the facts as well as putting ideas into practice through volunteering, standing up for others, prayer, and activism.
“What is euthanasia?”
Recently, I attended a Catholic educator’s conference with materials from the Culture of Life Studies Program. Many of the teachers and parents at the conference were very enthusiastic about our program because it aligned very well with the new pro-life education guidelines developed by their local Catholic diocese.
A small group of teenaged volunteers passed by our table, eagerly looking through our materials for high school. One of the girls picked up our study Euthanasia: An Introduction with a confused expression on her face. “What’s eu-than-asia?” she asked, slowly pronouncing the word as if it belonged to a foreign language. As I explained that we have a duty to protect the lives of all human beings—from beginning until end—her face relaxed and she nodded enthusiastically in agreement.
Growing up in a very pro-life diocese, this teenager knew the importance of protecting all people from the first moment of their creation, but when it came to end-of-life issues, she had absolutely no knowledge that euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide were very grave attacks on the dignity of the human person.
Euthanasia is quickly becoming the next big pro-life issue. Students need to be prepared to answer the tough questions about suffering and death. They need to know that death is not an antidote for suffering. We must constantly remind them that they have a special duty to protect all people, not just from abortion, but from other threats against humanity as well.
“Margaret Sanger? Who’s that?”
At the March for Life Expo this past January, we showed a sneak preview of Who Was the Real Margaret Sanger?—part of our new video lecture series for high school students. Many of the students attending the Expo were very familiar with the evils of abortion, but few had ever heard of Margaret Sanger and her twisted ideology.
“Wait!” said one high school junior as her group walked past our display. “Margaret Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood?” She knew that Planned Parenthood has become the largest abortion provider in the country and she understood that abortion was very wrong, but when it came to the history of abortion and the strong connection between contraception and abortion, this studious high schooler was ignorant.
Margaret Sanger’s place in history is important for the pro-life movement because it clearly shows how her racist agenda spurred the eventual legalization of abortion. It took only 100 years for America to go from completely banning information on contraceptives to legalizing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Students need to examine the slippery slope of the culture of death and educate themselves so that history doesn’t repeat itself with another attack on human dignity.
Parents want to keep their children safe from the lies and temptations of the culture of death, but the reality is that unless parents take an active role in their child’s education and proactively train them to discern the lies of the culture of death, they will sooner or later succumb to the lure of society.
So how do you train your children to decipher the truth from the lies? It’s easy to see the difference between right and wrong in a textbook definition or in the Catechism. But you must give your children practical examples of how to live a culture of life and how to respect every human being, and then show them how to navigate through a world of confusing morality. Here are some things you can do to arm your children against the culture of death:
- Spend time with your children and let them feel reassured that they can talk to you about anything without fear of being judged. Building a strong bond of trust between you will help your children understand that you want the best for them.
- Regularly have conversations with your children about the books, videos, and online material they are consuming. On family movie night, print out one of our film discussion guides and talk about how the film supports a culture of life. Learning to discern the positive message of a story will help your children understand how bad messages can be put into films and books.
- Volunteer as a family. Help at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and pregnancy resource centers. Expose your children to a variety of activism opportunities for the pro-life cause. There is no better way to witness to your children than to show them that you truly believe what you say.
- Learn together. Don’t be afraid to admit when you need more information on a pro-life topic. Show your children where they can find reliable pro-life resources and how to discern a good resource from an unreliable one.
- Pray for an end to the threats to the dignity of every human person.
It is no longer enough to “be pro-life” and not take any action to end the threats against the dignity of the human person. Students must be armed with the truth from an early age in order to withstand the lies of the culture of death. While students don’t need to see every example of evil in the world, it is important for them to learn discernment so that they can make good decisions. What students don’t know can hurt them, unless they are prepared.
Laura Kizior is a content developer for American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program, which stresses the culture of life as an integral part of every academic discipline. CLSP is dedicated to helping students become effective communicators of the pro-life message. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter to see how we can help you foster a culture of life at home and in school.