thanks, moanaluapto for the pic
Dear Story Surgeon General,
As a mother, grandmother, and someone who works on a daily basis with children and youth, I have a great interest in removing malignant tumors from their mental food.
A junior high student left her library book on my bus one day. Curious about the title, I checked it out and found it was about a young girl who cut herself. I knew the student who had left the book, and she herself was a troubled teen. It made me sick to think of her taking those ideas into her mind.
Where are the books that uplift and inspire? That bring hope and peace and a desire for goodness of character?Gail,
Thanks for your letter. I hope you don't mind that I edited it a bit for brevity.
It's easy to see why troubled teens turn to books like this. There is something extremely comforting to know there are other people out there with problems like ours (or even worse that ours.) I imagine that's why authors keep pumping these books out. They have an audience, and they think they are helping trouble teens everywhere to feel validated.
In the WSJ article I quoted in my first blog post, Ms. Gordon addresses this issue as well:
The argument in favor of such novels is that they validate the teen experience, giving voice to tortured adolescents who would otherwise be voiceless. If a teen has been abused, the logic follows, reading about another teen in the same straits will be comforting. If a girl cuts her flesh with a razor to relieve surging feelings of self-loathing, she will find succor in reading about another girl who cuts, mops up the blood with towels and eventually learns to manage her emotional turbulence without a knife.
Yet it is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them and, in the case of self-harm, may even spread their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures. Self-destructive adolescent behaviors are observably infectious and have periods of vogue. That is not to discount the real suffering that some young people endure; it is an argument for taking care.