The use of a swear word today is more common than it used to be few decades ago. Men, women, and children are using an array of curse words on a daily basis. Some of these terms have been present for a long time and others have been created by contemporary generations. The main question or concern, therefore, is about the impact of such languages on behavior. Most importantly, parents have to identify whether using such types of words in the presence of their children will affect their current or future behavior.
This essay demonstrates that profanity does not deleteriously affect children.
First, profanity is usually used when one wants to express anger or frustrations without resorting to physically aggressive means. Psychology Today asserts that when one hits his/her thumb with a hammer, makes a tremendous mistake or gets angry or startled, “the most polite and reverent person will likely swear” (Psychology Today, 2012, ph.2). In her article, Bowen says, “I don’t use it [swear word] to demean — I use it to describe or erupt” (Bowen 2017, ph.
7). Using swear words should be allowed because it is a safe way of releasing deep-seated emotions. In extreme circumstances, such feelings may prompt one to become physically aggressive; hence, swearing is a more secure way of venting. Since people are prone to such emotions, it would be better if they used ‘swear’ words to express themselves rather than beating someone or throwing an object at something.
Secondly, the way in which curse or swear words are used is also relevant, and their impact is dependent on this factor.
Bowen says, “words have power, and a lot of the power they own is due to the means in which they are used” (Bowen 2017, ph.2). She further says that “there’s a big difference between shouting an epithet after stubbing your toe as opposed to screaming ‘What the f*ck is wrong with you?’ when your child makes a mistake” (Bowen, 2017, ph.2). People should not focus on the types of words they should use when in the presence of their children but to whom they are directing them. Hence, the problem should not be about how the words are conveyed, but to whom they are communicated.
The above point can also align with the perception that words identified as profane are not bad in themselves. They only appear to be wrong because of the actions they are associated with or what they represent. The article by Psychology Today indicates that “it isn’t swearing itself that is harmful… but the factors associated with swearing” (Psychology Today, 2012, ph.4). When a child swears, it is assumed that he/she is undisciplined, and that he/she is sometimes involved in bullying. In other scenarios, such children are perceived as negative influences on their peers or other children in general. The article by Psychology Today further states that swearing can be linked to two outcomes. It can “indicate a lack of discipline, or it might just be related to a more open and free-speaking home environment” (Psychology Today, 2012, ph.4). Therefore, curse words do not cause harm if an individual considers the context in which they are used.
Thirdly, there is no evidence showing that using swearing words in the presence of children has any positive or negative influence on them in the present or future. In another article by Strand, the author opines that “there’s no evidence that a word in and of itself has a negative effect on anyone” (Strand 2004, p.80-81). The few studies conducted by authors such as Bergen show that these curse words do not have a negative effect on behavior or other outcomes. The author notes that, “Swearing is largely innocuous”. Scientists documented that children in the age range of 1 to 12 naturally produced thousands of taboo utterances, and rarely experienced negative repercussions. On no occasion did swearing lead to physical violence (Strand 2016, ph.12). Therefore, since there is no substantial evidence linking the use of profane language with negative behavior, people should not feel guilty or limited when using it.
Despite these factors, one has to acknowledge that swearing corrupts the English language and the line between what is acceptable and unacceptable is becoming blurred. When answering the questions, “have slang and swearing increased? And, if so, is this a trend to be deplored, by parents and educators? (Aitchison, 2006, p.19), the author indicates that part of the answer to this question is “yes.” She further notes that “language always seems to fill a finite worry space” (Aitchison, 2006, p.23). Therefore, people tend to worry about the language they use because it portrays who they are as individuals. Therefore, they worry that teaching their children the “wrong” language will affect them negatively. Another study conducted by Simpson, Duarte, and Bishop indicated that “an individual’s mother had the highest correlational influence on swearing, although peers also had a significant relationship” (2016, p.1). Consequently, it can become challenging to admit that swear words have no influence.
An additional concern raised entails the lack of evidence or research surrounding this issue. Although the information released does not show any correlation between adverse behaviors and use of swear words, the studies are also not substantial enough to prove that such a relationship does not exist. Therefore, such a lack of research and evidence shows the fluidity of this topic, which indicates that future research has the potential of confirming either of the beliefs. The author of the article in Psychology Today states that, “as a social psychologist who has studied many aspects of communication, I was surprised to find that there was so little research on swearing” (Psychology Today, 2012, ph.7). Therefore, critics indicate that it is premature to make conclusions in an area that has been hardly researched.
Based on these concerns, it is clear that people should not be disturbed that children speak curse words. Instead, the primary challenge that should be addressed is the negative effect of such words on their behavior, either in the present or future. If one is to assess whether children will start using profane language as part of their speech, the answer is absolute. A parent’s language has an impact on the child’s vocabulary as proved by Simpson, Duarte, and Bishop (2016). However, the most alarming issue would be to note that these profane terms are also influencing their behavior. For instance, it would be of concern if they were becoming bullies, physically aggressive, deviant or showing some other adverse behaviors as an outcome of such words. Since Bergen (2016), Bowen (2017) and Strand (2004) do not prove that there is a relationship between swear terms and negative behaviors, there is no harm in the use of curse words, either by children or adults.
Moreover, if the few studies conducted to date have not identified any relationship between adverse behavior and adverse outcomes, then people do not have to be concerned about further studies identifying such a relationship. It would also be impractical for people to refrain from expressing themselves fully because they are in fear of an uncertain future. Even though findings from research can be disputed in the future, living in worry and fear cannot be a healthy way of raising a family. There are diverse factors that can change the future regardless of the substantiality of studies conducted today, whether they are proof that profanity is acceptable or not. The goal is to bring up one’s children in the best social environment.
Additionally, parents should be more concerned about teaching their children words that show sensitivity towards human conditions. It would be more inappropriate if a mother, father or guardian started using words such as ‘stupid,’ or ‘fat,’ or ‘lazy,’ or ‘bad,’ (Bowen, 2017, ph.7) when describing another individual. Aitchison states that “the new worry space seems to be political correctness. It is not possible to call anyone “daft” or “mental”, or even “deaf” or “blind”. The new trend is to talk about being mentally, aurally or physically “challenged” (Aitchison 2006, p.23). Although words have influence or impact, the type of words being used is crucial.
Contrary to common view or perception, profanity does not deleteriously affect children. The current research shows that even though certain curse words may depict a child as undisciplined or a bully, they do not change their behavior adversely, whether in the present or future. It is important to note that this is an under-researched issue. Therefore, more studies are needed to make reliable conclusions. Nevertheless, the current research shows a lack of a relationship between profanity and adverse behaviors. Therefore, parents should be at ease when they use a profane term. However, parents should be careful to use such words when expressing an emotion or feeling but not directing them at the children.