Sound Off Sunday is a weekly event hosted by Reading Between Classes. This is your chance to speak your mind. Each week will feature a new question or topic on which you can share your thoughts.
This week's Sound Off topic is: Sex in YA
YA is not just for kids anymore. A growing number of adults are reading the genre (or at least have started to admit that they read it) and, perhaps as a result, some authors are making things a little more racy. I constantly find myself conflicted on this issue.
On one hand, as a kid I read a lot of YA and a lot of adult novels. I read about murders, possession, child abuse, creepy ass cyborgs (that one still haunts me) and yes, even sex. I did not turn into a murderer, I did not play around with ouiji boards, seek out sex offenders or scrutinize every person in my life to see whether or not they were actually breathing (well ok, yes I did, but only for a month or two). And I did NOT have sex. I was an adult in college before I took that plunge. Mostly, because I was raised to believe that a) sex was special and should be shared with someone that you love and b) my mother would kill me if she found out while my father took out the young man with one of his shotguns (take note that it was ONE of the shotguns - there were a lot in my house).
I don't think reading about teenagers having sex would ever have made me want to do it, but I also don't like how many forms of media mistakenly make real teenagers think that EVERYONE is doing it. The same goes for drinking and drugs. Lots of kids don't partake, but if one were to believe many books, tv shows and movies, every teenager on earth has a secret stash full of drugs their parents have never even heard of! I do believe that such saturation will make teenagers think of these activities as more commonplace and therefore, less of a big deal. I only hope that they are able to discuss the things that they read or view with an adult who will allow for an honest and frank dialogue.
Now comes the other side of the coin. Ultimately, when I read about sex in YA (especially in a book I was really enjoying) I tend to get disappointed. Because this means that I cannot put it in my classroom. Since I teach junior high (ages 12-16), my classroom books are held to a higher standard. I have to scrutinize them for swear words, illegal activity and sex because you never know what is going to offend a parent. It makes my job that much more difficult because there are wonderful books that I could recommend, but due to the content, I fear for my job. This becomes particularly frustrating when the complaining parent does not want their child READING about sex, but allows them to watch shows like Gossip Girl or play violent games like Call of Duty. I can only assume that the parent in question has never actually viewed these things.
Ultimately, sex in YA makes my life more difficult. I might enjoy the book myself and completely understand why the author chose to include the scene. But, I know that I will then lose out on an opportunity to recommend a great book to my students.
Can't wait to hear what everyone else thinks on this topic!
Next week's topic will be: Classic Novels.