I find it very chilling when a dance student of mine has complete knowledge of adult swear words. Many times, I will explain to a kid that these particular words do not belong in our dance class. And it baffles me that I even have to address this problem when parents should be in charge of this. Words and phrases that are generally censored in our public media have somehow made their way into the brain of an 11-year old. When I was about that age, it was absolutely FORBIDDEN in my family to swear. My parents didn’t even accept “Shut up” as an exclamation. Looking back, I feel as though it helped me understand the meaning behind the word/phrase so that if I really did need to use it, it would be for an appropriate reason. But that wasn’t even until I was in my teens.
It begs the question that maybe swear words have lost their intensity? Maybe, these words and phrases have no meaning anymore and are similar to the way we use the word “the”. If that is the case, we should probably do more to make sure children are aware of the definitions of these curse words so that they can use them properly. Right? I mean, you wouldn’t want a kid to be calling another one a… nevermind.
Pop songs are generally targeted to a specific audience with the interests of the listener in mind. When Eminem raps about being a young father, he wants to reach out to the 20-somethings that deal with similar experiences. But, he uses swear words A LOT. Currently, I am very interested in this kind of expression because when I am with my friends, we use swear words to liberate ourselves. It’s f**king awesome. However, I didn’t particularly listen to Eminem until I became the age of his target audience and I think that was because my parents refrained from playing those songs. I am not saying every household should be doing this, but I recognize that young kids are not able to relate to mature songs. Their concept of sex and alcohol is very different, having less experience with it. So, if they are learning from the music they listen to, it will change the way they speak. I find myself having to always find a “clean” version of Top 40 Songs to play in my dance classes and that saddens me. Where did the innocence go? Are my students being influenced by music that is making them age too quickly?
It is important to realize that the words children hear can be interpreted however they choose. Ultimately, it would be impossible to censor everything but we should do our part as role models and think about how we use our words.