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The Wall Street Journal posted an article yesterday titled Darkness too Visible: Contemporary fictions for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity. Why is this considered a good idea?There was an uproar on Twitter, which I always find amazing. The book community rocks my socks off! Don’t attack us. You will loose. I’m one of the many, many people who are blogging about the topic, from readers to authors and everyone in between. So, here’s my two cents.

Adolescents are experiencing a tumultuous time! They are forming their own identity and becoming autonomous from their family. They, by nature, are not very trusting of adults, and therefore, many go through some horrible shit without telling a soul. BOOKS can be their savior. They may help the teen realize that they can survive and that they are not alone. Most of all, however, books can urge them to seek help. And even if an adolescent is not experiencing the dark issues in YA books, reading about them can only help one become more empathic and compassionate toward their troubled peers.

We have to stop treating our future movers and shakers like they will break into a million pieces after reading a book. They are, in fact, young adults and I can name a number of teens who are far more mature than many adults I know. Don’t dumb down their information and experiences! Adolescents have a hard enough time getting through that life stage and moving into adulthood in a healthy fashion. Denying them reality is hindering their ability to survive in today’s cut-throat society. Do I think we should force feed such ugly topics down their throats? No, of course not. But sheltering them from reality, denying them knowledge, and thus their ability to process and deal with it, is a serious disserve to their emotional and mental health.

This entire hubaloo goes along well with my thoughts on censorship and it angers me something fierce. I am so damn sick of this society pushing their beliefs and morals onto others. Yes, there is always a chance that a teen will pick up a bad idea or two from a book. However, we all deal with chance in our daily lives. It’s called….you ready for it?….being human. Making mistakes is human. It gives us the opportunity to learn and grow. But if we are never given the opportunity to experience things, how are we ever supposed to grow up and become healthy, balanced individuals?

While peer pressure and media influence plays a large role in the choices adolescents make, the parenting lies at the center of it all. These young people live in a REALLY UGLY WORLD and to deny them some semblance of truth, keeping them wrapped up in a tight cocoon of puppies and snow cones, is a serious disservice to them and could very likely blow up in your face. As a social worker, I feel that these stories are extremely important to write and to read, for all of us. They raise awareness of these issues, and really give adolescents an opportunity to get in touch with their emotions and express them – something all of us could be better at. Use this opportunity to discuss these issues with your children and students! Open the lines of communication within the family. Share a personal story. Let them know that they have support and love and should they experience any form of trauma, that they can rely on you. Don’t just walk through life ignoring the big bad ugly. These issues exist whether you want to admit it or not. Ignorance is NOT bliss…

Other blog posts on the topic:

ash sign The darkness exists, whether you admit it or not.

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12 Responses to “The darkness exists, whether you admit it or not.”

  1. Amanda says:

    I don't think I could have said better myself.

  2. Great article! I agree with your view. Being a kid is rough and sheltering them from issues that might make people gasp is not all that good for them . The same person who wrote the original article was probably one of the same people that said Harry Potter was bad for kids to read as well.

  3. Roof Beam Reader says:

    It is a thousand times more likely that an injured teen (or adult) will be healed by a "dangerous" book, or that a healthy teen (or adult) will learn compassion by reading about others' pain, than it is likely that a "dangerous" book will turn a "normal" teen bad. The idea that this even happens is so extraordinarily silly but, if you are really, truly worried about it, then get involved with your children – read what they're reading and TALK about it. Thanks for your post – and for linking to mine too.

  4. Smash_Attack says:

    Ignorance is NOT bliss…

  5. Smash_Attack says:

    I definitely agree with you there. Parents need to become more involved with their children, as a whole. If they opened up the lines of communication, their children would have a healthy socio-emotional balance. And that usually turns into protective facts for trauma they may experience down the line. Children and adolescents are damn resilient and we do not give their mental/emotional capacity enough credit.

  6. Missie says:

    Such an amazing post with a powerful message, Ash! Thanks for voicing your opinion! Now I'm off to check out some of those other links.

  7. Smash_Attack says:

    Thanks, Missie! A worth topic to talk about :)

  8. kathy says:

    Great post. It always makes me sad when people expect schools, or libraries, or authors to do the hard work that parents need to take care of. Parents really need to create relationships with their kids where they feel comfortable talking about any of the "dark" issues that come up in YA, instead of trying to hide them.

  9. Tara SG says:

    Really, really, really wonderful post!!!

  10. Smash_Attack says:

    Why thank you. Can you feel my passion? :)

  11. I agree – books can give them tools they may or may not need to use should the situation arise. Nice arguement!

    I nominated you for Gini Koch's Alien Proliferation award: http://www.bookaddictpatti.com/2011/10/award-some
    she's offering some great prizes, including an ARC of Alien Proliferation!


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Smash Attack Reads is a blog that celebrates the world of books and the people who create them. Smash also rambles about crafts, personal and social worky-stuff sometimes, too.

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