I have a category — rarely used — on the Soapbox called “Wash out your mouth”. It was designed to be used when someone says something filthy or slanderous or wrong or just plain stupid. If I used the category properly, I think many of my posts would fit under that broad umbrella, but I usually forgot to check that box when I’m writing.
Today, though, there’s a story out of the US about a school that’s hoping it won’t have to wash anyone’s mouth out, although they have had to have a bit of a rethink of a new guideline almost before it even got started, as this story explains.
NORTH ARLINGTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey Catholic high school criticized as sexist when it asked only its female students to take a pledge to stop cursing has let boys join in.
The coed Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington gave the clean-language oath to some boys on Monday.
The school made news last week when many of its female students swore they would not swear. But the school-sponsored campaign left out boys.
The Record reports that school officials won’t say how many boys agreed to clean up their language.
Unlike the girls’ ceremony, the swearing-in for boys was closed to the media.
I fully support the initiative because I am increasingly disappointed by the foul language that I hear from teenagers I walk past or sit next to in a range of public places. It’s quite possible I was a bit of a nerd growing up who didn’t use such words very often, and certainly wouldn’t have used them out in public. But I think the 20 years or so since I was a teenager have seen a major shift in the brazen behaviour of some young people. I think a lack of discipline — in homes and schools — is probably to blame, so I think any moves to ask teenagers to clean up their act, and their language, are a step in the right direction.
I hope more schools, Catholic or not, make a similar effort. Even better, it’d be great to see parents try to stop this from developing in the first place, though I knew many kids who were angels at home but swore like sailors away from their parents, so it’s hardly an exact science. In the quest to be a “mate” to their kids, I believe some parents are failing in their duty to raise responsible, considerate kids. The schools shouldn’t have to do that work, but that’s what is happening in many places.