You're shocked by the study by BYU professor Sarah Coyne too, right? I mean, I was. I read at least 52 YA books a year, and had NO IDEA these books were so full of profanity! All sarcasm aside, is this really such a big deal? I'm not exactly a prude, but I'm not the most foul-mouthed FYAer either. Insert all the usual arguments here -- teens curse, their PARENTS curse, at least they're reading, parents need to monitor reading choices* -- fine, fine. What really got me was the slipshod scholarship for the sake of alarmism.
While profanity in TV and movies has been studied extensively, this research is the first to examine it in the realm of books aimed at teens. Thirty-five of the 40 books – or 88 percent – contained at least one instance of profanity (one of them contained nearly 500).**
That’s a far higher rate than what’s found in video games rated T (Teen), of which only 34 percent contain profanity. In a way, that’s comparing apples to oranges because books contain more words – also known as “opportunities to swear” in the academic literature.
I'd say. Considering books have approximately 378197438920748978597481074382910 times more words than video games, is it any surprise they have twice as much profanity? I'd say the ratio of total words to curse words is probably pretty tame. The only surprise about this article is the study's title includes the word, "Helluva."*** That's pretty PG-13 for BYU.
*Once again, I'm boggled by the contradictory nature of the politics of calling for the feds to start slapping age restrictions in the form of ratings on books, while simultaneously protesting "Big Government." Cake, eating it too, and all that.
**That "one of them"? Yeah, it's a book called Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff, according to the Christian Science Monitor. I know, big shock.
***Coyne, Sarah D. "'A Helluva Read': Profanity in Adolescent Literature, Mass Communication & Society 2012, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p360-383 for those who want to track the original down. Don't judge my citation format -- it's been a while since grad school.