Landmark Forum Leader David Cunningham was quoted on the subject of youth cursing in Newsday, a major New York City newspaper. Excerpts from the story are shown below:
TV, Music, even Parents are a Big Influence
When Children Talk Trash
By Pat Burson
April 6, 2008
Be honest, parents: Does your kid have a potty mouth?
If you're not sure, try eavesdropping on the little darlings when they're either hanging out with their friends or talking on the phone or doing anything else when they think you're not around.
Some of you would get an earful.
You might wonder where your teen, tween and even preschooler learned such dirty words.
"They're everywhere. It can be from parents, sometimes from brothers and sisters. It can be from friends. It can be from friends' family members," says Jim O'Connor, a Chicago-area public relations professional who contends that swearing has helped make people and society coarser and less civil.
Sometimes when people swear, it's out of habit or laziness, O'Connor and others say. "If [a person] can't think of a word, they throw that [curse] word in. 'You look like [poop], that tastes like [poop].'" (If they really know what poop tastes like, he adds, they have bigger problems than a limited vocabulary.)
O'Connor suggests parents ask their kids to expand their vocabularies and find other words to express themselves. "Anytime the kids swear, ask them, 'What could you say instead? What's another word for that?'" he says.
While some kids may think cursing makes them sound older or cool to their friends, it's important for parents to clarify the meaning of the words.
"Lots of kids experiment with profanity," says David Cunningham, a senior program leader with Landmark Education, a San Francisco-based global training and development firm, who coaches people on how communicate effectively to improve their relationships. "Find out if the child understands what the word means. Sometimes kids don't understand what they're saying. Sometimes when they find out what it means, they're not interested in using it."