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Censorship for Teenagers

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Censorship for Teenagers

Kathryn Criswell

Western Governors University

I. Censorship for Teenagers

a. Is censorship dangerous to the development of our children? Censorship is a concern for parents, schools, librarians, and school administrators. Public education is vital to the future of society. Students must be allowed to develop the spirit of independent intellectual thinking and be exposed to a variety of conflicting ideas, images and viewpoints, in return giving them the knowledge to make the best choices in life (Reichman, 2001). b. Should parents censor what books their children read? Research suggests that censorship can have a negative impact on teenagers because the topics teenagers are facing today are the very ones that parents are trying to shelter them from. c. Main points: i. Censorship limits teenager’s ability to understand societal issues. ii. Censorship limits the knowledge teenagers have to make up their own minds and discuss their thoughts and opinions openly. II. According to the American Library Association, the following books are the 10 most challenged books of 2011. The graph represents the reasons why they are challenged. 1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle 2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa 3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins 4. My Mom’s Having a Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler 5. The Absolutely True diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie 6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor 7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley 8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones 9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar 10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

a. These thirteen reasons that parents feel are inappropriate for teenagers to read about are many of the issues that young people are faced with in today’s society. Many parents worry about their children reading literature about sensitive topics such as sex, violence, religion, language, and racism. This leads to censorship of literature in high school which hurts their children more in the long run. Censorship can stunt children’s ability to understand societal issues and the information to make decisions rationally and logically (Reichman, 2001). Reading about these issues encourages them to think about them more in-depth. Books can lead to increased awareness of the world and things that could happen in everyday life. Based on a survey in 2004, young people should have the freedom to read and consider a wider range of ideas and have access to a variety of resources to help them develop critical thinking skills (McNicol, 2006). Young people need to be able to choose freely from a range of viewpoints on debated subjects (McNicol, 2006). Censorship can lead to a narrow worldview with holes in the cultural and international education of our children and provides no framework for them to understand other religions, cultures and beliefs (www.lifescript.com). b. In a focus group of varying teenagers, a question was asked about the power of books; several commented that reading could enlighten your thoughts on a subject and may change your opinion (McNicol, 2006). The question was also asked about the value of books with difficult issues and many felt that being censored has a negative impact because it does not aid advancement in life and prevents one from developing, both educationally and socially (McNicol,2006). Reading educates people about the difficult issues they may encounter in life and how best to deal with those issues. Young children who grow up without education about sex will have no knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases and birth control, other than what they learn from their friends (www.lifescript.com[->0]). A parent wants to keep controversial subjects in the forefront of their child’s development. One would rather their children feel comfortable approaching their parents when they want answers or feel they are able to discuss their opinions about varying issues in life. III. Conclusion a. Should parents censor what their children read? Parents need to be aware of what their children are reading and offer guidance to any questions they may have. They need to be aware of the negative impact of censorship, as it limits young people in their ability to understand societal issues and the knowledge to make up their own minds. Teenagers need to get to a point in life where they have the confidence and knowledge to make decisions on their own. Research suggests students want the right to decide what books they read but would value parental guidance and the freedom to discuss these books openly with their parents (McNicol, 2006). b. The impact of censorship is detrimental to the growth and development of today’s youth. They need to be made aware and experience the difficult issues they may be faced with in today’s world. The time for this is while they are being nurtured and guided by their parents. They should feel free to discuss issues with their parents and not be turned away or made to feel they are too young to deal with these issues. This is the time they need to be able to learn about these issues and become prepared to face them in life. Parents need to prepare their children for life and awareness of the world as it exists. Every book will not be appropriate for every reader; the ability to read, speak, think, and express ourselves freely are American core values (Kennedy, 2012). At some point in life, our children will have to make choices and allowing them the vast knowledge that reading provides will help them make the best decisions in life.

Visual Aid Script
My visual aid reveals the thirteen reasons why specific books were the top ten challenged books in 2011. I converted this information into a bar graph. The information given listed the top ten challenged books of 2011, the author, and the reason cited for the challenges (ALA, 2012). All ten of the books had multiple reasons listed for controversy. I decided to further divide this information according to the most frequently cited reason to the least. This information shows the various reasons parents find the books unsuitable for their children. I find the reasons interesting and have trouble understanding the logic behind parents wanting to ban this information from their teenagers. These reasons are issues that arise in everyday life. Books that deal with societal issues help teenagers learn and evolve to formulate their own opinions in life. Based on the research provided, it reveals the fact those teenagers need to be aware of these issues and have the knowledge to make informative decisions.
Visual Aid Description
I believe that revealing the reasons books are challenged allows us to understand why it is important not to censor these controversial issues but instead openly discuss with our teenagers. I choose a bar graph to provide a visual presentation of data in a clear concise manner. I used Microsoft office SmartArt to develop my visual aid. It helps show the main reasons books are challenged and in doing this allows the audience to understand that these reasons are readily dealt with by many teenagers each day. Parents need to be able to support children as they develop into adulthood and freely discuss challenged issues with them. If parents continue to shelter their children from controversial issues they will be unable to deal with them appropriately later in life.
Audience Questions and Answers
1. What is censorship?
Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain groups or individuals find controversial. Censors try to impose their views about what is truthful and appropriate (ALA, 2012). Censorship infringes on intellectual freedom, which is the right to seek and receive information from all points of view.

2. How do parents’ guide their children where books are concerned?
Parents need to be aware of reality and what their children are facing into society (ALA, 2012). Parents need to read the books their children read and be prepared to answer questions about what some people feel are offensive issues. Parents need to keep communication open and strive to their teenagers feel comfortable discussing even the most controversial subjects with them.

3. What can I do to fight censorship?
Stay informed and aware of what is happening in your state, school, and city councils. Attend local school and library board meetings (ALA, 2012).

4. How do teenagers feel about censorship?
A number of teenagers felt that a book should be judged on whether it tells a good story rather than its content being potentially offensive. They saw value in books about controversial issues because they could learn from these matters and how to deal with them (McNico,2006). Most disagree with censorship but not with guidance. They want to be able to make up their own minds and become more independent.

References
ALA, American Library Association. (2012) Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2011 retrieved from www.ala.org/advocacy/top-ten-most-frequently-challenged-books-2011.
Kennedy, Elizabeth. (2012) Censorship and Banned Children’s Books and Books for Teens. Retrieved from childrenbooks.about.com/cs/censorship/a/challenged.htm. Source American Library Association.
Life script Connect Contributor (2007) Censorship in Schools And The Effects On Our Children. Retrieved from www.lifescript.com/life/family/kids/censorship_in_schools_and_the_effects_on_our_children.aspx?g...
McNicol, Sarah. (2006) Teenagers, Reading and Censorship, teenager’s views of censorship in libraries. Retrieved from www.ebase.bcu.ac.uk/docs/censorship-teenager-focus-groups-report.pdf
Reichman, Henry (2001) Censorship and Selection Issues and Answers for Schools, 3rd edition, copyright by American Library Association.

[->0] - http://www.lifescript.com

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