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Old 13th May 2010, 12:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Crying foul

Crying foul



by Lin Wenjian


Public relations consultant Jacqueline Lim, 43, is perturbed by anyone who uses foul language. But her husband, Mr Soo Yew Weng, 44, thinks it is 'inevitable in this day and age for young people to swear '.

The vice-president of sales in the broadcasting industry says: 'It's the state of the world. Kids are much more exposed these days. You can't shelter them too much.'

However, he and his wife agree that swear words should not be used in front of their two daughters, aged 11 and nine.

'Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, expletives slip out of my mouth and I apologise for saying them and tell our children that what I did was wrong,' he says.

'It is not appropriate for anyone to use swear language even if they are adults, but you can't stop it. Parents can only tell their children what's right and what's wrong and provide proper guidance.'

Try telling that to the prepubescent female lead in the hit movie Kick-Ass, currently showing in theatres here. Thirteen- year-old actress Chloe Moretz's character has gotten moviegoers talking about the suitability of having such a young actress spew vulgar words of the filthiest order.

Even for adults who accept that using foul language is common these days, they draw the line at their children using it, especially at home.

Like Mr Soo, retired construction supervisor K.H. Lim is not above using 'all kinds of swear words' at home.

The difference is, he had unleashed foul- mouthed tirades at his 24- and 22-year-old sons when they were young and remains unrepentant about it.

The 60-year-old tells LifeStyle: 'I have been using swear words since I was a young boy. I learnt them from my parents who used to scold me using vulgarities.'

He says he is not sure if his sons have followed in his footsteps, but adds, nonchalantly: 'As long as they don't scold me using vulgarities, I am not going to ask them so much.'

Social worker Patricia Koh from Touch Community Services warns that 'values are more caught than taught, and any double standards in expectations will make children confused'.

Not surprisingly, teachers and childcare professionals LifeStyle spoke to say children who swear most likely pick up the words from their parents.

'Young children learn the words they use from the people around them, especially parents,' says Ms Lynn Heng, group professional leadership officer at NTUC First Campus, a local provider of childcare and childhood education services.

Calling them 'eager sponges', she adds that children start to pick up what they hear from around six months of age.

She explains: 'They not only learn the words but also the feelings associated with the words by listening to and observing how the key people in their lives look and act when words are used.

'So if we use a particular word when we are angry, our children are likely to say the same word when angry, without actually knowing what the word means.'

This is indeed what happened with Secondary 5 student Marcus Cheah.

The 17-year-old confesses: 'I use vulgarities in school when I am angry or frustrated. I don't think it is a big problem because I don't mean any harm or offence to anyone.'

He adds that he learnt 'most of the swear words I know from my parents who say them when they argue'.

Another avenue from which children learn foul or inappropriate language is the media, say experts such as Ms Heng.

That is why housewife Hasnah Mohamed Esa monitors what TV programmes her five-year-old daughter watches.

The 37-year-old says: 'Cartoons that have coarse language, such as Dexter's Laboratory, are banned. I allow her to watch programmes such as Hi-5 and Barney And Friends, which are educational.'

Executive assistant Serena Ho, 45, is concerned that her children - a 20-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter - could 'pick up foul language from friends, TV and the Internet'.

But she stops short of supervising them directly because she is confident her children know their limits.

She adds: 'Of course, my husband and I will try and peep at what they are doing at the computers, just to make sure.'

Schools also do their part to ensure proper conduct in their students.

A 40-year-old teacher in a secondary school in Ang Mo Kio, who declined to be named, says there has always been rules about appropriate behaviour in schools. But she says 'it is up to the teachers and principals to interpret these rules intelligently, according to the situation'.

She once witnessed a student hurling Hokkien expletives at a female teacher, but instead of meting out punishment immediately, the school allowed the boy to cool down and reflect on his action. In the end, he apologised to the teacher.

A 30-year-old Chinese language teacher in a primary school in Bishan tells LifeStyle that 'younger children are generally well- behaved but there will be one or two rascals who think it's cool to swear' or who do so due to a slip of the tongue.

He recalls one incident: 'A boy blurted out the word 'a**hole' in class. I told him off, gave him demerit points and informed his parents.'

Since then, he has not heard the same boy use swear words.

Source: http://www.divaasia.com/article/9039

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