Life swearing in YA novels

Published on May 19th, 2012 | by Kim LaCapria


Kids Prefer Books With Potty-Mouthed Characters, Swears, Study Finds

swearing in YA novels

A study that will come as no surprise whatsoever to those of us who owned a dog-eared copy of Judy Blume’s Forever in junior high has revealed that forbidden content like characters who swear is more appealing to young readers than milquetoast, profanity free literature.

Interestingly, the study published in the journal Mass Communication and Society also noted that characters who frequently spoke in asterisks and ampersands “tended to be of higher social status, better looking and have more money than their non-swearing counterparts,” which is totally the way it tends to be in real life, amirite?

However, the increasing use of swearing in young adult novels is also on par with the increasing acceptance of profanity in day to day life, and Harvard assistant professor of psychiatry Steven Schlozman tells ABC:

“Recall the multiple political figures who have been heard to use profanity when they assumed they were not on microphone… The subsequent [truth] that increased profanity within dialogue or first-persona narratives, or third-person familiar narratives, adds to the YA novel, and a kind of challenging that is characteristic of identity formation for all adolescents and young adults, especially in Western culture.”

The study noted that 35 of 40 books included in the study had at least one expletive, with an average of 38 per book recorded. The 40 books included in the study were located on the YA bestseller list. Parents are advised not to prohibit the material per se, but to review and use the books as “teachable moments.”




About the Author

Kim LaCapria is a writer and editor based in New York. A longtime information junkie, she began blogging full-time at the Inquisitr in 2009. Prior to that, she worked as a marketing assistant in the cosmetics and skincare industry. In addition to her writing for fortytwotimes, she also writes for Medacity and The Inquisitr. Kim is also a contributor for SocialNewsDaily, Indyposted, and TotallyMoney. In the past, she contributed to Lipstick and Luxury and managed social media accounts and blogs for several small and mid-sized businesses.

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