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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Books being banned impairs students in their education

Banning books will do little to further students’ education

A recent book banning in a California school district has caused a stir among parents and teachers.

Last week, the Riverside Unified School District’s book reconsideration committee confirmed its decision to ban the best-selling novel “The Fault in Our Stars” by author John Green from all middle schools and remove all existing copies from middle school libraries. This banning came after parents in the school district raised concerns about their children being exposed to certain themes in the book which they deemed inappropriate. According to the parents, the themes expressed in the book—sexuality, profanity, and mortality—are potentially harmful for 11 to 13-year-old students.

And this is not a solitary case — literary works are being banned across the nation every year. In several schools here in Massachusetts, many famous novels are now prohibited on school grounds, including blockbusters like “The Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter” series.

The obvious reasoning behind this line of action is that children are pure beings who must be protected from the unsavory world outside of the classroom and sheltered from perceived negativity. In lieu of attempting to engage in productive discourse about such “controversial” topics and helping provide context for children and teenagers exposed to such subjects, the material is simply forbidden to students.

Indeed, it is easier to just ignore a problem than actually dealing with it, and this seems to be the prevailing strategy among these parents.

They endeavor to regulate the thoughts that their kids might have and therefore they take steps in controlling what the children can learn.

However, a hungry mind will find food for its sustenance. Such pop-culturally dominant pieces of literature cannot be realistically kept away from adolescents—they will be exposed to it one way or the other. This creates a problem because instead of having the guidance of a parent or teacher to come to terms with themes that could be considered heavy for such young minds, the teens are left to navigate the journey on their own. This could lead to avoidable misunderstandings and misinterpretations of literary works with more intense themes like violence, racism, sexuality, and drug abuse.

Without proper explanation from a more experienced voice, children will become even more vulnerable to the danger of possibly imitating the socially unacceptable elements of those lifestyles.

Not to say that these blockbuster books should be included on middle school or high school syllabi, because they don’t. They should, however, be made available and easily accessible to students.

But to prohibit the students by law from accessing the books infringes on their basic right to holistic education. If students demand to be educated about certain topics or if they want to read certain “controversial” books, they should receive the appropriate information at the most appropriate place for it: the school.

If avenues for learning get taken away at schools, where else could young minds turn? It seems as if students are not expected to think on their own or have independent ideas.

Where does this interference stop? From books being banned at secondary schools, it is only a small step to books being banned at universities: the hive of great ideas. After that it wouldn’t be possible for new outstanding theories to be developed, but only “guided” concepts. We are currently journeying on a road that will lead to us possessing only impaired views and knowledge of the world.