When Corporations Abandon Social Responsibility, Our Children Suffer

A horrified mom shields her son’s eyes.

In an idle moment, I thought I’d see if my video streaming service had anything interesting to watch. I found a new television series featuring three young male housekeepers who encounter terrorist challenges to overcome. It sounded clever so I settled in to watch this show.

Now, I could tell you the name of the service and the name of the show but what I found was so abominable, I don’t want to promote either one of them. And I don’t want to direct any young people to this show, especially.

Less than five minutes into the show, one of the three slackers (we’ll call him Al) asks one of the other housekeepers (we’ll call him Ned) if he can buy some of the hallucinogenic drug salvia from him.

In a serious tone, Ned responds, “Al, you’re a drug addict. And I’m here to help.” Then he pulls a packet of drugs out of his pocket and gives it to Al.

Al fires it up, saying, “Weed does not do the trick any more. This stuff does.”

Al proceeds to trip heavily, becoming completely disassociated from the real world. More hijinks ensue. That was as far as I lasted.

What is the Point of This “Entertainment”?

I couldn’t even figure out why any major corporation would endorse a message like this. Did they never think of the millions of young people smoking pot that they were essentially encouraging to get high on salvia?

Salvia leaves
Salvia. Photo courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

If you’ve never heard of salvia, that’s because it’s not a widely-known drug. We’ve written about it here. It creates such an intense and out-of-control high that it is common for a person who’s going to use this drug to enlist his friends as “sitters” to look after him during the relatively brief period of hallucination. Users and their sitters will take themselves off to some site where they can run around and scream without being disturbed.

The high doesn’t last long but it’s incredibly dangerous to be so out of control. If you want to see its dangerous effects for yourself, just visit YouTube and search for “bad salvia trip.” You can learn more about salvia from the Drug Enforcement Administration by clicking here.

Corporations like those manufacturing and marketing alcohol or drugs or those creating movies, television shows and video games have the ability to create profound effects on our young people. They can inspire teenagers to take over a vacant home for a party and create tens of thousands of dollars of damage in an effort to copy the antics of actors in the 2012 movie “Project X.”

It’s not really possible to deny that alcohol-laden movies can easily encourage youth to drink. In 2012, a study followed the drinking patterns of 6500 American youth between the ages of 10 and 14. Over the two-year period of the study, those youth who watched a lot of movies featuring heavy consumption of alcohol were twice as likely to start drinking compared to youth who did not watch that type of movie.

No Surprises There

Young people partying hard.

It’s really not a shock. Teens and pre-teens are looking for new experiences, for excitement, for change. If they see someone having an exciting time with a drug or bottle of booze, why shouldn’t they imitate that behavior? The movie or television show is very unlikely to show the true-life consequences of those actions which might include bad grades, school suspensions, being grounded by parents, dependence or addiction, illness, injury and even arrest.

When major media and entertainment corporations that have the power to pipe persuasive messages into our homes abandon any social responsibility or conscience, they can create massive harm. Maybe not in one single message, but like water torture, the effect builds. It’s our kids who are the losers. Maybe parents would just be annoyed by a movie about a group of guys drinking to oblivion but most youth don’t have the ability to rationally process that kind of message yet. They may just see it as exciting fun. Imitating those actions could make them feel grown-up and adventurous.

The conclusion that can be drawn here is that parents must, more than ever before, monitor and regulate the movies, television shows and video games experienced by their children. If corporations relinquish any responsibility for the messages they spend tens of millions of dollars on, then it is up to parents to filter out the destructive messages before they can be absorbed by their children. With televisions all over the house and multiple streaming services in many households, this is a difficult task. But it must be done if we are to inspire our children to remain drug-free as long as they are ours to raise to adulthood.

Oh, and I’ve cancelled that video streaming service.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.