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TO SWEAR OR NOT TO SWEAR

Shastah Zittle said she has never sworn in her life. Christina Kelley only swears when something isn't working out the way it's supposed to. Janine Christy said swearing isn't part of her regular vocabulary, either.

Not so with 17-year-old Amy D.

"I always cuss. I know it ain't right, but it gets the point across," she wrote in a letter to NeXt.

Whether teens choose to curse or keep it clean, one thing is clear: Swearing is everywhere.

In the movies. On television. At school. During sporting events and concerts. Sometimes, even at home.

"Swearing has become so much a part of our everyday culture, a numerous amount of teens don't even think twice about mumbling those four-letter words in public. Some teens even get away with it at home, because their parents swear also," wrote Catherine Frandina, a junior at Williamsville South, in a letter to NeXt.

Profanity overload affects teens two ways, NeXt readers said.

One, cursing loses its impact.

"I think today people especially my age swear way too much. And 99.9 percent of the time it is very unnecessary. It is so overused in today's society that I believe the meaning of it is less important. It is no longer effective," wrote Nicole A. Gorney, a junior at Kenmore East, via e-mail.

Two, it promotes even more swearing.

"I believe that with the excessive amounts of foul language in the media, it is a major jump start for the teens to copy," continued Catherine Frandina.

"They see their favorite singer swearing every other lyric of the song, so they automatically do the same. In their minds, they probably figure that if the famous person making tons of money does it, then there is no problem and they should do the same," she said.

Teens also swear excessively because they hear so much of it in the must-see movies, said Catherine.

"Many of the blockbuster smash movie hits are rated 'R.' Because these 'great movies' have the popular actors and actresses of the season, everyone who is anyone sees the movie, no matter what the rating. Also, if you don't see the movie when it first comes out, many people exile you until you do. You feel bad, so you see the movie," she said.

And hear a lot of bad words.

Not that a little swearing in movies isn't OK.

"To have a few scattered words or phrases here and there is one thing. It may even make whatever you are seeing funnier. However, I don't believe it is totally necessary to have the whole movie jam packed with swear words," she said.

Other teens say that just because you hear profanity in movies doesn't mean you want to go around swearing, too.

"I am in tenth grade, and I have not said one swear word in my entire life," said Shastah Zittle, who attends Springville High School.

Even if parents think kids will start swearing after they hear it in movies, that's not necessarily so.

Shastah tells her parents that swearing in the movies is only for entertainment and that she hardly pays any attention to it.

"I also tell them that, 'Yeah, it's wrong to swear, but if I'm not doing it, I am not harming anyone,' " she added.

Other teens say that it's not just musicians, athletes and actors promoting swearing among teens.

Sometimes, it's parents.

"A lot of my friends swear in front of their parents. I think that it is just a lot of disrespect, but then a lot of parents swear in front of their children," said Tina Gagliardi, 15, a sophomore at Clarence High School.

"I guess that it all depends on how you look at it and what you were taught. If parents don't teach their children that swearing is wrong, then they won't think that it is wrong and will swear," wrote Tina via e-mail.

Even so, some teens who think there is way too much foul language these days say they, too, swear now and then. But they set limits.

Christina Kelley, 17, who attends Medina Senior High School, said that she hardly ever swears. When she does, it's usually when something isn't going right during her auto mechanics class at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

She never swears around little kids, though, she said.

"It is so wrong because when they hear people swear, they will repeat it to their parents or go to school and tell the other kids. Soon enough, everyone is swearing," she said.

Janine Christy, a senior at Mount Mercy Academy, said she only swears as a last resort.

"I only swear when I am very frustrated or when there is no other way of expressing how I feel about something. I think that a lot of people swear to fit in with their friends who swear all the time. I don't see what the point of that is," she said.

Like several other NeXt readers, Janine said that there are far better ways of communicating.

"I think that people who have an extensive vocabulary, who talk intelligently and can express their feelings without swearing all the time, are so cool. I want to be more like them than like people who swear," she said.

"It is natural to swear once in a while, but I do not think that people need to make it a part of their regular vocabularly. I also think that people respect you a lot more if you find other ways than swearing to express yourself," she added.

Too much swearing can be a definite turnoff, agreed Tina Gagliardi.

"I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and we believe that it is crude and vulgar," wrote Tina in her e-mail.

"Personally, I think that it is just nasty. It turns me off when a guy swears every time he opens his mouth," she wrote.

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