There's So Much Damned Profanity In YA Books
A paper published today says that richer, prettier, more popular characters in YA novels swear more often than their dorky nerdface counterparts, and that "this is really important because adolescents are more likely to imitate media characters portrayed in positive, desirable ways." Professor Obvious—I mean Professor Sarah Coyne—of BrighamYoung University's Family Life Department analyzed 40 best-selling YA novels and was shocked to find an average of 38 naughty words per book.
Half the literary profanity was considered "mild," and given that her university, the largest religious college in the U.S., has a code that prohibits things like coffee, tea, and beards, I cannot imagine what qualifies as "mild profanity" in their minds.
Only five of the analyzed novels were swear-word-free. One went for broke and crammed 500 offenses, including 139 instances of the "F-word," into its 336 pages. That shining example of inappropriateness is Nic Sheff's Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines. It is a book about meth heads. METH HEADS. If your kid is reading this, you should not be shocked to find it's not exactly Teletubbies.
"I had no clue there would be that type of content in those books," says Coyne. "If they were made into movies, they would easily be rated R, and parents have no clue." They should put adult-content warning stickers on YA books, so that teens could quickly identify the good ones.
What do we think? Are kids mature enough to handle this, or should their reading material be sanitized?
Photo via Brigham Young University
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