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An article in the US News and World Report says:

Among the top 40 best-selling children's books on the New York Times list between June 22 and July 6, 2008, one researcher found more than 1,500 profane words, ranging from Gossip Girl—The Caryles's 50 "F-bombs" to Diary of a Wimpy Kid's occasional reference of bodily functions. Sarah Coyne, lead researcher of the study and a professor in Brigham Young University's department of family life, checked for profanity in five different categories: George Carlin's "Seven Dirty Words," sexual words, excretory words, 'strong others' (bastard, bitch) and 'mild others' (hell, damn). All but five books, including many targeted to kids as young as 9, had at least one instance of profanity.

A. Has this lady ever been in a school? Watched TV? Listened to music?

Her solution is a rating system for books. Hell, I’ll probably be damned for bitching about this, but I don’t think it’s needed.

B. I don’t believe words on the page are that dangerous.

It kind of reminds me of when I worked in health care and we were having trouble with one or two nurses who were not wearing adequate undergarments. Human Resources proposed a new rule about underwear, but then it got stuck: who would be the underwear checker? How exactly would they go about doing it?

C. There already kind of is a system, something called Common Sense Media. Click on the tag on this post for Common Sense Media to read more.

Remember what happened to Sarah Dessen’s Along for the Ride on Common Sense? As she said on her blog: This weekend, while looking at my page for Along for the Ride on BN.com (oh, come on, fellow writers, like you don't do it sometimes!) I noticed that a ratings system by a group named Common Sense media had been added. It featured a list of things people might find offensive in the book--drinking, drugs, etc---and recommended an age that was appropriate for reading it, which in this case was fourteen. Two things initially concerned me. First, that the book was being broken down into offensive bullet points, pretty much, without concern about how those events and choices on Auden's part contributed to her growth and that of the story. And secondly, that the review stated that Auden lost her virginity to Eli under the sex category, which was news to me, as I did not recall having her make that choice.

And read Meg Cabot’s take on Common Sense here, including how it rated Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret as inappropriate for kids under 14, making it sound like it was filled with salacious trash.

Read the article about all the swears here.




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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
annecy_dit
May. 31st, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
I don't think that concerned parents realize that kids actually moderate themselves quite well when given the tools. I'd really like to see more emphasis on teaching parents how to communicate with their kids about the media they consume and less on how to "protect" kids from media.

Also, the WHO would rate the books concerns me a lot. Every group has a bias, as the movie industry has illustrated very well over the years. Let's not do that to books. Especially over swear words...
aprilhenry
May. 31st, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
I actually have taken some mild swears out of paperback versions of my books. And a middle grade wouldn't be a middle grade if you didn't find the word "poop" in it.

It's the "who" that bothers me too.
annecy_dit
May. 31st, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC)
I was thinking the exact same thing about middle grade books. ;)
aprilhenry
May. 31st, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
Poop, fart and boogers - all middle-grade books must-haves!
writerjenn
May. 31st, 2012 11:07 pm (UTC)
Pretty interesting that the Wimpy Kid books include "reference of bodily functions." Since every living kid HAS bodily functions.

Usually, talk of ratings revolves mostly around 2 things: sex and swearing. Any reference to either of them is automatically considered bad. And to me this is such a shallow, slanted way of looking at any story. You might as well go through books and count the number of references to cars, and declare that kids must be warned or they will try to drive without licenses!

But it's not really about protecting kids. It's about protecting adults from their own squeamishness. It's about preserving adult denial.
aprilhenry
May. 31st, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
True that.
vmckay
May. 31st, 2012 11:17 pm (UTC)
You know what they really need warning labels on? People.

aprilhenry
May. 31st, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
I can think of a few who like quite nice on the outside - and the inside is a different story.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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