Word play

Updated on Oct 01, 2007 11:31 PM IST

While rushing through the playground, I heard girls and boys using profanities, as if they were terms of endearment, writes Vandana Chopra.

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None | ByVandana Chopra

Abusing is rampant in our society. The scourge is everywhere but one would think that children would not be party to it. Wishful thinking!

Last week my 10-year-old son came back distraught from the playground. Another boy of his age had pushed him down in a rough game of soccer and told him to stop being a “f…ing referee”. That was enough to jolt my son who was well aware of the word but was warned by his parents that only adults used it.

In my missionary zeal of a mother whose son had been wronged, I went scurrying to the park to take the boy to task. But while rushing through the playground, I heard girls and boys using profanities, as if they were terms of endearment. I beat a hasty retreat, wondering what was triggering this widespread phenomenon.

A survey by the UK-based National Literacy Trust found young children’s speaking and listening skills have deteriorated in the past five years. Ninety-two per cent of the respondents attributed the decline to the lack of time adults and children spend talking to each other. A sharp increase in double-income families means very few people, men or women, are spending enough time with young children.

A high-quality home learning environment where parents are engaged in activities with children has been found to be conducive to encouraging the intellectual and social development of the child. It has been found that children who have difficulty communicating in plain language often go on to develop behavioural problems, mainly due to their frustration at not being able to express their needs.
Television is also often blamed for the perceived deterioration of children’s language and communication skills. And research has shown that in many homes where television provides a constant background noise, adults get distracted from talking and listening to their children.

So all you parents sit up, talk, take note and kill the abuse.

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