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:
- Roof Beam Reader
- There’s Dark Things in Them There Books!
- Making the Darkness Visible
- Mundie Moms
- Me, My Shelf & I
- Word for Teens
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