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Monday, February 14, 2011

DISCUSSION POST: Teens and Censorship

I have been wanting to do a discussion post on the topic of Censoring reading for teens for a while now.  So I thought today was a good day to post it and hopefully we can all discuss our feelings on this subject.

Are you a parent who censors what your teen reads?

I am a mother of 3 girls and my oldest is 15 years old.  She loves to read Manga, but she also reads books that I read and review on the blog.  I will answer my own question above and you might be surprised at my answer.  Growing up, my parents didn't really censor the books I read.  They didn't read a book first to make sure it was okay for my age level.  With children of my own now, I follow the same principles.  I never read a book and tell my daughter she is not allowed to read it.  If she has questions about a book, I am glad to answer them, but I don't get upset about any book she chooses to read.  My library at home is in an open area.  Whenever she wants to read a book she is welcome to grab one and read it.  Some people disagree with this because I do have some erotica books on my shelves.  My daughter may ask about those books, but once I tell her what kind of book they are she passes it by.  I asked her one day if she is ever tempted to read them.  She always tells me no and she also tells me how she appreciates me not hiding them from her. I feel that my daughter is smart enough to know what is right and wrong, and she also has the smarts to choose what is appropriate to read.  If she happens to read a young adult book that touches on subjects that are geared more toward the older teens, she knows she can ask questions about it and not feel like I am going to be hard on her for reading it.  This isn't to say I would approve of her reading some of my racy books, but I certainly am not going to hold her back in reading.  There is too much censorship in schools to have to be scared to read a book at home.

Are you a teen who's parents censor what you read?

How does this make you feel?  Do you wish your parents would give you more freedom in what you read?  How do you feel about the censorship of books in your school?  Maybe I have given my daughter too much responsibility in choosing what she is comfortable reading, but I feel to tell her not to read a book due to content is a form of censorship.  I guess what it boils down to is I trust my daughter and her choices.  I know that most of the stuff we read in these books is the same stuff they are discussing and sometimes participating in with people at school.  

What are your thoughts?


Blogger ReaganStar said...

I appreciate your opinion on this, my parents did censor me.. in tv related shows growing up but never really with books,

I cant say for sure how i will be when the kids are teens seeing there 5 & 7 but all the books here will be available to them as they get old we have books from stage 1 reading for kids to sexual secret books and religious materials of all type in the house I feel that they should be able to make there own decision and believes as they age. I have never believed there opinions have to be the same, what better way to learn than to have a bunch of options and learning materials.

Thanks for bringing up this topic.

February 14, 2011 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger I Read Banned Books said...

A topic dear to my heart...

I have a 12 yo and 15 yo, and at times...I do censor what they watch and read. We are definitely lenient, but there are some things that they don't need to concern themselves with. May sound funny, but we don't care about language, drug use or violence in movies, tv, and books. Our main concern is with sexually related material. We are a very open family and discuss everything under the sun. That doesn't mean that I am comfortable with my daughters reading books with explicit sex scenes.

This may sound strange, but once you turn that sexual switch on...it stays on. I've heard sexually abused people say the same thing. If that switch can remain off for as long as possible, I'm okay with that. My head isn't stuck in the sand, we talk about rape, incest, and all the dating stuff. We are realistic about sex with our kids - we don't shove the 'marriage before sex' thing down their throat. It's almost to unrealistic to ask of such a thing. Sad, but true. We hope for that and ask them to consider waiting to be in a longterm committed relationship, but this country is literally sweating with sex. It's all over the place! I sound like a grandma, but sometimes, it's just too much for an impressionable teen.

Short answer: Yes, and it's my right to do so for MY child, but no one else's.

February 14, 2011 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger debbie said...

I have sensored some of the books my son wanted to read. I knew he just wasn't emotionally able to handle them. He wasn't happy at the time, but accepted my decision. Now, he is older, he has read the books, and thanked me for making him wait. He said he wouldn't have been ready to read them. I think sometimes you do have to censor a book, depending on your childs maturity level.

February 14, 2011 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Brenda Youngerman said...

I think that censorship on reading is much the same as censorship on anything else you do with your teenager. I was raised in a very controlling atmosphere and thereby chose not to do the same with my own children. We had open discussions about sex, drugs, alcohol and any other subject they brought up. I always knew what they were reading, doing or who they were hanging out with. Unfortunately, not all parents do that and I had kids at my house whose parents did not know where they were.
We live in a brutal world where things change in an instant and communication is really the essential key to EVERYthing. Books are a tool whereby an author is trying to communicate a message, so the answer you have to decide is whether or not you want that message communicated to your child - how it is delivered should not matter.
I hope that made some sense.

February 14, 2011 at 5:25 PM  
OpenID lostinbelieving said...

Like your daughter, I am also 15. My parents are the exact same way you are. They never had things censored growing up and my mom says that they turned out 'just fine.' I'm thankful that my parents don't try and censor the books I read. I don't try and read the adult stuff, it's just nice to know I have the freedom if I wanted too.

To be honest, I don't think censoring is as amazing as people think it is. Learning about different things that are more 'mature' is apart of growing honest, and I can tell you that my school is probably worse than any books I've read. High schoolers (and even middle schoolers) know/do/say things a lot of adults would never expect us to do.

Censoring isn't helping because we either know about it already, or try and rebel to know about things they don't want us too.

February 14, 2011 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Growing up my parents never censored what I read. I read crazily and by elementary school I was reading books at an adult reading level, but my parents didn't mind I was reading books for adults because I took responsibility for what I read. They were actually pretty happy I was reading. I don't remember coming across anything bad and I'm so thankful to my parents for giving me the freedom to read what I wanted back then. I learned a lot from my books and I really enjoyed reading different type of books at that young age. I think responsible censoring is okay though, it's all up to the parents choice. I mean, it's their kids, so they have every right to censor what they want. I'm just thankful that my parents never censored what I read, I had a pretty fun childhood reading super fun books. :D

February 14, 2011 at 8:38 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

My parents never censored what I read (with the exception of one book that I inherited from my grandma – Scruples by Judith Krantz), and for that I am extremely grateful. From kindergarten on, I read way above my classmates’ reading level and would have gone crazy if I had been stuck reading what they were reading simply for the sake of propriety. It was also a nice way to connect with my parents – my dad gave me all of his favorites from back in the day, and I grew up reading and talking to my dad about books by Douglas Adams, Alistair Maclean, and Kurt Vonnegut.

I don’t believe, as someone posted, that once the sexual switch is turned on it stays on. I started reading James Patterson’s adult novels in 5th grade and my mom’s romance novels (not just the “clean” ones but also the Temptation and Blaze lines) in sixth grade, and I still managed to keep it in my pants. I think that when kids start having sex early, it’s because they don’t have a support system in place to tell them that it’s okay to take things at a pace they’re comfortable with instead of what society and their peers dictate. If you teach your kids to trust and value themselves, they’re much less likely to do stupid things.

I have found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place at times, because my half-siblings’ parents definitely do not share my parents’ beliefs. My experiences with them over the last few years have only cemented the idea that I do not want to censor my future children’s reading.

February 15, 2011 at 5:51 AM  
Blogger Christie (The Fiction Enthusiast) said...

Great subject! I was raised by my grandparents, and by the age of 15 I was reading and watching what I wanted. I remember reading Danielle Steel romance novels in 5th grade LOL My son is almost 11 and I do monitor what he reads, watches, and what video games he plays. With that said I’m very lenient compared to other parents I know and believe if you make something off limits they’ll just want it more. He is great about asking if I think books will be too scary for him. I hope to monitor what he is exposed to for as long as I can , but I will trust him to make his own choices as he gets older. I don’t think reading a book with teens drinking or having sex will make a teen run out and do the same as long as parents are involved and paying attention to their children. I try to keep a very open relationship with my son and so far it is working well.

February 15, 2011 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger The Rheinlander's said...

I LOVE the answer that lostinbelieving said!! I was not censored in my reading as a child and I don't think I will for my child(she is only 1) either I want her to have a LOVE for reading and have already started her a little library of her own. I think that teaching right from wrong and open communication like you have with your child is key... then it's not about censorship!! It becomes something more!!

February 15, 2011 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Thank you for posting this.

My parents never censored me; the only form of censorship I found was the "High School Only" section in the library, and my parents were always willing to sign a permission slip allowing me to read those books.

I feel like kids are smart enough to know what they like to read and what they can handle; I know I did. I feel like I might have been a bit more advanced for my reading group, but I knew what I liked to read and I learned a lot from the variety of books that I picked up.


March 2, 2011 at 6:09 PM  

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