Kids’ language and the media

KCRW ran a story on the indecency wars this morning, and quoted someone who was concerned that kids are picking up bad language from broadcast media.

Yeah, right. Broadcast media is so locked down they can’t find that kind of language there.

When I was in middle school, I spent a week working at a cub scout day camp. I think I was around 12 or 13 at the time. The adults warned us that we had to watch our language around the cubs (who were probably around 8 or 9), because they didn’t want the kids picking up any bad words from us. They needn’t have bothered. The kids were far more foul-mouthed around us than we were amongst ourselves, and actually managed to shock us. This was in the late 1980s.

Kids don’t need TV or movies to learn bad words. They learn them from their friends at school, or they learn them from parents, or from neighbor kids.

There was a B.C. comic strip a few years ago that I thought illustrated this point well: Two kids (well, ants) walk into the room, one crying, “Mom, he said the Z-word!” The parents send the kid to his room, then have this brief conversation: “Where’d the little %@#&! learn the Z-word?” “Beats the #@*$ out of me.”

3 thoughts on “Kids’ language and the media

  1. Stacy

    What amuses me was that in Irvine in the eighties, they were constantly trying to blame swearing on the “base kids” who were bussed in from El Torro. It’s always those bad strangers who teach kids bad words.

    Reply
  2. Kelson Post author

    Yeah. For a philosophy that’s quick to dish out “personal responsibility,” social conservatism always seems very unwilling to actually take any.

    Not that “It wasn’t me!” is exclusive to conservatives—it’s a human trait, not a political trait—but it’s one of my major complaints about the let’s-ban-everything-we-don’t-like crowd. They can’t seem to fathom that there’s a fundamental contradiction between wanting the government to keep out of people’s lives when it comes to helping them and wanting the government to interfere with people’s lives when it comes to lifestyle choices and biology. (I think wearing your pants down around your knees looks stupid, but I’m not going to advocate banning the “style”, as state legislatures in Virginia and Louisiana have attempted.)

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Inadvertent Language | K-Squared Ramblings

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