Discussion: Will you take a moment to answer?

To all book lovers and parents and people who care, I’d appreciate if you could take the moment to help me with this topic:
I’m writing an article on books that are inappropriately tagged young adults and actually contain adult contents, i.e. explicit sex scenes, too much violence, or abuse – drug or otherwise.
I was midway through the article when I wondered, what if I engaged readers in a discussion.
What do readers think when a young adult book contain too much explicit sex scenes, violence or drug abuse?
Research on the internet showed me that people – mostly parents – are complaining about this very thing, but there is still some who thinks it’s ok for teens to read such books, excusing the contents because this is the 21st century.
Ever since I started blogging, I’ve read some reviews that complain about an explicit adult scene on a book tagged young adult, and this topic’s been playing in my head ever since, so I decided to write about that for the magazine.
Here’s where you come in:
I’d very much appreciate if you could take a few moments to answer to these questions:
Considering that a book tagged young adult targets ages between 12 and 17; a book tagged new adult targets ages between 18 and 25; and a book tagged adult targets 25+;
•Would you give a 12 year old a book that has detailed sexual content, violence or abuse – How about A 15 year old? A 17?
•Do you think the age of the tags should be rearranged? How?
•Do you believe that books that details violence, drug abuse, sex and other inappropriate scenes should be pg rated?
•Are your answers based on the fact that you are a parent?
Please note that a reply to any or all questions are appreciated equally and that although no names will be mentioned, I’ll be using this discussion to elaborate on the article.
Your comments are welcome any time, but any comment after November 27th will no longer be included in the article.
My sincere thanks to all.
Jina

75 Replies to “Discussion: Will you take a moment to answer?”

  1. I would say that ‘Young Adult’ covers a very broad age range, with people maturing massively in the varying stages of age 12 – 17. I don’t know that we should shelter YA’s from sex, because consensual, legal sex should not be considered taboo, and topics that focus on a person’s right to say no and to keep their body private can also be explored through sexual scenes. But yes, a 12 year old reading a book should, in my opinion, be subject to less graphic sex scenes than a 16 year old, for example.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, I am an 18 year old and in my perspective, the books tagged as ‘young adult ‘ should not be containing any drug abuse or sexual scenes. Well, like you I am also not against erotica but It’s not my thing, I read my first erotica a few months ago and It was fine, I did not love it but I did not hate it too. All I know is, if I had read it a few years ago, it would have had a different effect on my mind, I was not ready for it, I would have been shocked and disgusted but an 18 year old me could accept a lot of things that I read which a younger me would have never accepted.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t think the tags should be rearranged, I think these books should be tagged properly. Young adult books may include a little bit a romance, the fairy tale types but anything sensual should be kept for the new adults and adults.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t see the issue with explicit scenes. I started reading fan fiction when I was 12, and some of the content was mature. If I found anything too explicit I’d just skim over it until the story started again and move on. From my perspective I’d give detailed books to anyone 15+, and err a little on the side of caution with 12 depending on individual maturity levels.

    I think we should rate books the same way we rate movies, in addition to the current tags. It would avoid confusion as the symbols are easy to recognise, and it would allow parents to easily decide if they think a book is appropriate.

    I’m not a parent and I had a lot of freedom to read what I wanted growing up, so that shapes my perspective somewhat!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I feel that explicit love scenes should be kept out of books. It has become way too common to cram those into books after every few pages, and has become a selling gimmick.
    There wasn’t any need for sex in books like in the movies which you can’t watch with your children. Children books for eleven till twenty shouldn’t be bombarded with love scenes. Young minds shouldn’t be filled with erotica.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In my opinion, 12 year old kids shouldn’t read books with sex scenes, drug abuse and etc., but 15 is already an OK age. Maybe those type of books should be just categorized as New Adult or as you said to have a teen category for ages of 12-14/15. I think that maybe the age range for Young Adult genre is just a little bit too wide because age 12 is not the same as 25…but of course nowadays kids are growing up so fast and meet with these topics quite early in their lives compared to how it was 20 or even 10 year ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Young Adult shouldn’t have graphic scenes. Something can be implied but it shouldn’t be written in a graphic way. I’ve discussed this in my writer groups. As someone said in the comments, New Adult is a genre for more explicit scenes but if a writer can’t work around the story, i think it should be indicated somewhere, maybe goodreads or during promotions. For instance in the past i’ve self published with amazon and I put a warning in the description that looked something like this …. *adult content-18+*

    Liked by 2 people


      1. That’s an interesting question.
        I wouldn’t recommend it to Spinette or beg her to read it or anything, but she can read what she wants to.
        So I wouldn’t mind if she read it, but I wouldn’t be the one to give it to her.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Age and lifestyle are two different things. An eleven year old girl can be having sex and get pregnant and for her nothing would be inappropriate. The only way people can ever become intelligent is for them to read and if they enjoy what they are reading they will read more. All the young students like rap music and this is doing more harm to society than any books. It promotes a lifestyle that calls women bitches and the more curse words that are included in these songs, the better the kids like them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, it all depends on age, style of life, household rules, cultures, traditions and so on. I understand about the rap part too, and there are violence and abuse on books too, and this topic is also addressing that. but in this discussion, i’m asking the individual’s point of view, so, Jim, personally, do you think that books for 12 to 17 years old that contains explicit sex scenes, violence – any type – and abuse – drug, children, or any other type, are appropriately tagged?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great questions, Jina, and you’re likely to get a range of responses. I get a little squeamish about the idea of a 12 yr-old reading some books tagged at YA, but I think that by high school (age 14) kids are going to know all about it anyway – I did and that was 45 years ago! I worry more about television than books. Books require a certain level of maturity, and for the YA audience, these topics are usually handled well. On television, the content is not only explicit but available to much younger children. Why deny a well-written reading experience when all this stuff is blasting from the television. One of the things that’s interesting to me is how US culture thinks that killing and gory violence is acceptable for young eyes, but not a love scene grounded in caring and respect. Great discussion!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. So, let me see if i get this right. 12 year olds are too young for the sex scenes, but 14 and up are alright.
      But the violence and abuse? you mention them on tv, but those are still mentioned on the books tagged ya. what’s your take ?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t have any hard fast age delineations, Jina… I just remember when my daughter transitioned from middle school to high school there are a huge surge in information and exposure to all kinds of stuff, so denying the experience through books seemed like a moot point.

        And, of course sex and violence occur on a spectrum. Some people might suggest that Bugs Bunny is violent and seeing a breast is sex. I’m not so puritanical, but personally I don’t care for horror or erotica. I would never suggest that young adult material include erotica or horror. But YA horror is a thing! Also understand that I don’t read much YA – all the teenage angst. Been there, done that.

        I guess my take on violence and abuse is if a young adult can watch Game of Thrones, Criminal Minds, Friday the 13th, and the evening news, they can manage “The Hunger Games.”

        Just an opinion based on my limited view. In the end, nothing beats parental involvement in their children’s choices and discussions about the content. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Jina. This is a great discussion topic. While my usual argument is, you might think young adults don’t know, but they know more than you do, I would say I’m a bit more conservative when it comes to books. I don’t think the issue is whether YA books introduce these topics (drugs, sex, violence). I think the question is, how do we present these topics in YA literature. For me, Contemporary Romance is contemporary romance because there are explicit graphic, sex scenes in them. I don’t think that these images are necessarily appropriate in YA, but I do think sex, as a topic, or even scenes with kissing, is something we do need to introduce to a YA audience.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hm, again, I think it’s a matter of content as well as form (language/descriptions). If the focus is simply on violence/abuse, then I would say no. But, if it were about processes of recovery from particular events then yes.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I think it depends on how mature the child in question was. But I do think there’s a scale as well for how mature the content is. I think it is helpful for a book to say if it’s got mature content so that parents can make the decision! Great discussion topic!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t like a rating system for books, because I don’t like a rubric that determines what is and is not acceptable. I think it begins to look like censorship. I have a 15 year old and I am pretty open to whatever she wants to read. That being said, I think parents should know what their kids are reading, and be able to discuss it with them. Honestly, I think people should be happy that their kids are reading,

    Liked by 1 person

  12. – Would you give a 12 year old a book that has detailed sexual content, violence or abuse – How about A 15 year old? A 17?
    Possibly 17, certainly not before. I don’t think they would be mature enough to deal with the issues.

    – Do you think the age of the tags should be rearranged? How?
    I think the ages of the tags are fine; as long as the content is appropriate.

    – Do you believe that books that details violence, drug abuse, sex and other inappropriate scenes should be pg rated?
    Certainly. Otherwise it is an impossible task for parents to know what to expect in each book, other than to read them through before allowing their child access.

    – Are your answers based on the fact that you are a parent?
    Very much so..

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Interesting questions. Early and late teens may not have sex or take drugs often, or even at all, but they are very interested in this topic. They need information and pov on the topic. I think sex and drugs should appear in ya novels, but how these topics are handled is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I knew so much about adult subjects since when I was 9, my parents wanted us to read and know about life and the world. Sex, drugs and other areas were discussed in the news such as Vietnam War and actors and musicians who died while I was growing up. Racial discussions included kindness, openness and acceptance. My dad was an engineer and mom a teacher, so education was important.
    I read James Bond and Sherlock Holmes books, murder and sexual relations were in each book. I let my kids in the 90’s to read anything they wanted since books feed our minds and they don’t teach us to want to be intimate. They actually inform us of consequences. 😊 Robin

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Would you give a 12 year old a book that has detailed sexual content, violence or abuse – How about A 15 year old? A 17?
    A 12 year old – NO
    A 15 year old – NO
    A 17 year old – probably YES

    Do you think the age of the tags should be rearranged? How?
    New adult should be 17-22

    Do you believe that books that details violence, drug abuse, sex and other inappropriate scenes should be pg rated?
    Maybe, but I know from working at a public library that the PG would be difficult if not impossible to enforce.

    Are your answers based on the fact that you are a parent?
    My children are now adults, I have no grandchildren, I guess I was answering as a librarian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. interesting. can i ask you one or several – more? as a librarian, do you notice if parents care about the contents of a book? do they check a blurb before approving? or do they give free run? do parents even accompany their teens to the library?

      Like

  16. Would you give a 12 year old a book that has detailed sexual content, violence or abuse – How about A 15 year old? A 17? — this honestly depends on the child in question. I would have to seriously consider giving the book to the 12 year-old; but would have less of a problem giving it to the 15 year-old. Generally speaking I think 13/14 is the threshold age.

    Do you think the age of the tags should be rearranged? How? — this is a difficult one for me. I never read “Young Adult” – I jumped straight into adult novels from quite an early age (Jane Eyre when I was 10 for example, the same year I got a Furby toy for Christmas…)

    Do you believe that books that details violence, drug abuse, sex and other inappropriate scenes should be pg rated? — I don’t think that ratings or labels are terribly helpful. I wonder if having a page at the start of a YA book, detailing in a simple paragraph the context of the “inappropriate content” would be helpful. For example, a note to parents/guardians/teachers, explaining that while there is violence within the book, it is against the backdrop of (for example) the wider social/historical plot. There’s certainly a difference between gratuitous sex scenes and the rape mentioned in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

    Are your answers based on the fact that you are a parent? — no, I do not have children.

    *as an aside, I sometimes think back to the fact that I read “Lolita” when I was 13. I had no idea what I was going to read when I first picked it up – it was back in the early 2000s and I had just opened up an Amazon.com account (my parents let me buy books from time to time, and didn’t really care what I bought. Furthermore, I don’t think they would have known what “Lolita” was, anyway). Without delving too much into my own past, I’ll just mention that at the time of reading, I wasn’t aware of just how dark/controversial the story actually was. As someone now in their late 20s, I would certainly not give Lolita to a teenager to read (let alone a 13 year-old). I do think I’ve “missed out” on some of the subtleties of the novel as well, having read it at a young age.

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  17. I think today’s generation of children (12-17) have become way more knowledgeable about sex than kids in the past, mainly because of the internet. And frankly, even if you refuse to put in sex scenes, those kids are gonna come across them anyway, in other books, movies, TV (come on, so many kids watch Game of Thrones) and from friends. I think the main issue modern parents should worry about is whether kids’ ideas of sex are healthy, both the physical and emotional aspects of it. And many parents don’t even do this properly, preferring their kids remain ignorant, which they won’t, but would instead be aware AND naive.

    I don’t think explicit sex scenes should be included in YA when it’s sex for the sake of it. I think a lot of times when such scenes traverse into erotica, younger impressionable readers might take them to be fact.

    So what I think is important for YA writers to do is to be purposeful with their sex scenes (explicit or otherwise) in terms of whether they advance plot, or maybe character development. The most vital question to me would probably be: is it a realistic depiction of sex? Is it healthy? If it’s unhealthy, then readers must understand why and its implications. I think that’s only responsible. If authors can do that, then yes, I don’t think sex in books is an issue. (And parents… need to give their kids better education about it, keep track of the books their kids are reading, and have honest discussions about the story. That’s what I call good parenting.)

    When teens grow up (maybe when they’re 16 or 17 and above), perhaps they wish to read hardcore erotica. They can look for books in that genre themselves, but not in YA, when there are 12 and 13 year olds to consider who might get morally wrong or skewed ideas about the act.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think I hold the same stance for that as well. I think there’s Hollywood-style gore (which tends to be really tasteless in my opinion, because reading it is like… reading purple prose. Unnecessary to the story. Then again maybe it’s preference 😂) But if I can see how violence and abuse has been used to advance the story or tell me something, then yeah I’m totally fine with that.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I think 12 is a bit young to get into topics like that. I’m not a parent but as a writer my guide would be to write what I’d discuss with my kid if I was a mum or someday when I might be. I think at 13 you might start discussing these things but not in detail. By 15/16, you might discuss them a little more because they would need to at these ages be aware of the dangers and the consequences. It’s kind of a walking tightrope of the books being age-appropriate and making them wise to what goes on in the world so they can make informed decisions. But no, I would never put an explicit sex scene or an explicit drug scene in a book for under 18s but I might mention that it happens without explicitly going into details.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m leery about giving books to children between adolescent ages for this very reason. Some people are very picky about what they want their children to read, so I stay away from gifting books during these ages.

    In terms of my own children, I know their maturity levels, so I pretty much give and used to give them whatever books they asked for, and if there’s erotica involved, I wouldn’t know, unless I read it. Mind you, my “children” are 16 and 18, so it’s a little different.

    I do think books should be labeled appropriately, especially if erotica or extreme violence is included, kind of like a movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m 68 so I guess I’m well past understanding youth and any division of literature. I have included some sexual scenes in two or three of my novels, but they are a million miles away from erotic. They are consensual and natural and not wildly explicit. However, if my daughter was under 18 I would not like her to read those. And that would be because I would be embarrassed not her!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Everyone who likes a very good thriller/mystery with a sparkle to it. Over the years I’ve been compared to many and each time I have been flattered and surprised, but I’m nobody else. I write to entertain me and if I succeed then I know others will like what I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I did. It was for my first book, The Desolate Garden, and I was paid for five years for that book to become a $30 million film. Unfortunately, distribution was a hurdle it couldn’t overcome. Something to do with who pays for the cost of the advertising. I had a great time with it, doing lots of book signings etc.

    Like

  23. I don’t write YA books, and one of the reasons for that is my reluctance to introduce topics that aren’t appropriate for those under 18. Yes, I know many of those kids are much savvier than I was 50 years ago, but there are still many who aren’t. Those are the ones I’m concerned about. I don’t care to be the one who introduces them prematurely. Kids books should be aimed at kids, with kid issues, and material that’s generally speaking, kid-friendly. That doesn’t mean difficult topics can’t be discussed, but explicit sex and/or recreational drug use should be reserved for the over-18 crowd.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I’m so sorry that I missed this, between work, family and studying, I’ve had little time free for catching up on blog reading. Anyway, as today is your deadline, I’ll add my contribution, even it it’s only to express my opinion!

    As the mother of two girls; aged 13 and almost 12, I am surprised what passes as ‘young adult’ given who the target audience are. It’s difficult to generalise because different cultures around the world classify things differently, but I do feel that the categories need reclassifying because many authors consider the word ‘adult’ in YA to mean in nature of the book rather than age of reader.

    I once critiqued a YA book for the author and questioned the classification. The sexually explicit scenes were far too detailed for the younger end of the YA spectrum, and although they worked for the story (yes, it was a very good book), it wasn’t – in my opinion – YA by any stretch of the imagination. It was still marketed as YA though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. i understand being busy. as i was writing this article, i’ve noticed that some authors get on the offensive when they are addressed with this topicI , as an adult, enjoy young adult books a lot. i’ve come through a lot of contents that weren’t appropriate for the target audience, but as my kids are yet too young and don’t read books *sigh* i never paused to consider this mistagged books until i began reading some complaints, both from the young adult ages and parents. Thank you for the contribution. i will be linking this post to the article, so your answer will still be included.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Isn’t it what Sarah J. Maas is doing? Her books contain explicit content, her books are the equivalent of fifty shades of grey for fantasy readers and goodreads, booktube and common sense media are covering up the information of the real content of her books to fit the marketing agenda of Bloomsburry Children. The publishing company marketing team needs Empire of storms, A court of mist and fury and A court of wings and ruin to be featured in places such as Middle grade libraries and bookstores.

    It’s the responsability of the parents, not of Sarah J. Maas or Bloomsburry Porn Children to look up for information for the content of what their children read, but Goodreads, Booktubers and Common sense media aren’t helping the few parents who do look up get the accurate information and that’s a shame. I’m not a parent but I think that just as other media such as comic books, music and videogames have warnings for explicit content, the honest thing to do is to add those warning to books. A book marketed for Adults might be clean and lack violence like books marketed for underage readers such as A court of mist and fury contain more violence and explicit sex than books such as Game of throne.

    Adding warnings you don’t need an age limit. Even a 15 YO teen should be able to decide whether they want to read sexual content or not. There are also adult readers (like my friends) who prefer to read books wit no explicit content. Warnings are the best way to let readers make their own decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. If you don’t include Sarah J. Maas books in your article, your article will be, no offense, incomplete in my opinion. At the very least as part of your research, you should go to a bookstore, grab a copy of a COURT OF MIST AND fury which is marketed falsely as young adult even though none of the Main Characters is under 20 years old Peruse/read/skim the following pages of the american edition (uk edition has warning for sexual contents)

    Pages 21, 22 A faery woman is descriptively fingered by someone different than the hero, then she has descriptive sex, then oral, descriptions of the fluids and the nudity and the action in vivid detail.

    Pages 471, 472, 473, 474. 475
    A faery woman is fingered to orgasm by the heroe(different guy from the pages 21-22), partial nudity, but this scene takes a quite few pages and it’s an erotic scene, not just a sex scenes, but the purpose seems to be to be to turn on the reader.

    Pages 530, 531, 532, 533, the orgasm that shatters the mountains: a pair of lovers heroine and hero have sex including oral, vidid description of the action, use of the word “cock”

    Pages 538 and 539 vivid descrption of oral (fellatio):P but they call it licking LOL.

    There’s also a description of a fae woman touching herself and mentions of rape, along with other scenes that I didn’t discuss. You’ll see that the book containing explicit content is not at all my opinion, but a fact. What might not be a fact is the book being sold to 12-16 YO readers but the reports of my goodreads friends tell me so. I’m Australian and I don’t understand how the not selling porn to minors works for Americans but I thought there was a rule or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My article has been submitted as of november 30th so i can’t change or add anything to the article doesn’t talk about the quality of the books mentioned, only about mature contents being included in young adult novels and what he general conscesus are talking about.
      Your opinion here is very much appreciated.

      Like

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