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.