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To be horrified by this Jacqueline Wilson book and the message it sends to teens?

(149 Posts)
AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Fri 21-Jun-13 14:25:36

At the moment in on a bit of a nostalgia kick book wise and have been reading all my old Jacqueline Wilson books. I've just finished rereading Love Lessons. Its about a lonely teenager (14) who falls "in love" with her male teacher who reciprocates the feelings and acts upon them.

Basically she confesses that she "loves him" and when they are alone in his car after babysitting, she kisses him and he kisses her back. He tells her that he has been fantasising about her at night and wishing they could be together. At the end of the book, the girl is asked to leave the school so the teacher can stay. On the walk home, the teacher catches her to say he loves her but he's staying with his wife.

When I read this as a teenager, I thought it was romantic and a really sad love story but now as an adult, all I can think is what on earth was JW thinking?! Teenage girls always get crushes on teachers but its like this book is saying to try and act on it because some teachers might love you back.

And then when the girl is asked to leave the school, the things the head teacher says to her are appalling. Quotes:

"You should have thought of that before you started acting in this ridiculous and precocious manner. If I were another kind of head teacher I would have Mr Raxberry instantly suspended. There could even be a court case. He would not only lose his job, he could find himself in very serious trouble. Did you ever stop to think about that?" --> is complete victim blaming and ignoring (and failing to report) abuse.

The girl says "none of this was his fault." and the head teacher says "I'm inclined to believe you." Again blaming the girl for what happened.

Its like JW is saying that a 14 year old girl could be responsible for an adult male risking his job and taking advantage of a pupil. Like she should have been the one to say no. And she's also saying that people in authority (the people someone abused should confide in) might think that way too. What will girls reading that book think?

At no point does JW use the story to explain that this is abuse, the girl is a victim and that the teacher is responsible for the situation and not the girl.

AIBU to be horrified by this book and disappointed in Jacqueline Wilson?

ncforembarrassingproblem Fri 21-Jun-13 23:17:45

She does say though that she wishes she could tell the patronising woman how hungrily Rax kissed her back.. Im sad enough to have the book in front ofme haha .. I suppose the way to see it is that. Prue, fourteen and infatuated is inevitably going to say it's not his fault. Sadly stupid teacher agrees. So what might help is to talk to DCs and say - what do you think, was it Prue's fault or was it the fault of Rax, other adults in Prue's life? etc.. I suppose as well it's always best to read unfamiliar stuff before giving to younger or impressionable teens. There are themes in most of JWs books that parents should probably be aware of and prepared to discuss I think - maybe a warning on each cover like films e.g. this book contains descriptions of xyz...

MadBusLady Fri 21-Jun-13 23:19:08

Ah, I apologise Never I've just notice I misread your post, and you were talking about "leaving better authors out of it" with regard to the Shakespeare argument. So strike out that phrase in my reply.

Your news "comparison" is still bobbins though. wink

MooncupGoddess Fri 21-Jun-13 23:28:24

It was the phrase 'guaranteed safe read' that stuck in my gullet, MadBusLady. I can't really imagine what a 'guaranteed safe read' for teenagers is, or why they would want to read it.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Fri 21-Jun-13 23:31:25

The only time I ever thought reading needed to be censored is when someone I know's 9 year old son was doing his book report on 50 Cent's autobiography. hmm

DeepFriedRyvita Fri 21-Jun-13 23:44:46

sad

AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Sat 22-Jun-13 00:02:06

I'm sad too then nc haha! <pats book> Even though that bit does suggest that she knows he will get in trouble, it still doesn't make it clear to the reader that she has been abused by the teacher and it doesn't seem that Prue realises it either. A child reading the book alone may not realise either.

I suppose the problem with the book is its presented as a book about a teacher-pupil relationship theme but it doesn't state or suggest anywhere that its actually a teacher taking advantage of Prue and its the teacher's fault so children who don't have someone to discuss the book with, will go away from this with the message that a headteacher will believe a teacher over a child and will blame the child for the abuse rather than the abuser and the child will be punished. It feeds the victim blaming culture and could deter abused children from telling someone of their own real life abuse if they are scared of being punished or blamed. As for warnings, I think this book would need a warning that it contains victim blaming and punishment of the victim rather than the abuser as well as a warning that it is about a teacher taking advantage of a child. That would be a good idea I think for the children who will read it alone because its clear to them that the headteacher has failed Prue.

When I was a teenager, my mum didnt check every book I read before I read them because I got through so many every week. We didnt have time to discuss the books I read either. I'm sure there's many children who will read this book alone like I did and be confused by the message inside. If it had a warning though or an afterword explaining the headteacher was wrong and what should happen in real life, it would be great.

SinisterSal Sat 22-Jun-13 00:06:47

It would be great though if there were guaranteed safe reads for teens, or tv, or websites. How do parents manage to vet everything, and then discuss it, as suggested above? It must be a relief to see your children reading/watching/listening to/browsing something you already know is ok. How often does that happen?

SinisterSal Sat 22-Jun-13 00:08:11

x posts Amy with your last point

Morebiscuitsplease Wed 17-Jul-13 06:58:39

JW does raise uncomfortable issues, I think a book is a great place to do that. my DD loves her books. She is starting to realise how life can be for some kids. We have talked about it. Books are there to open the mind, to ban things we don't like is not the answer. Talk about the books, use it as a discussion point and explain that this is not allowed and possible consequences.
personally I think the content of Eastenders is far far worse, but that is only TV..... Would we ban that?

CinnamonAddict Wed 17-Jul-13 07:14:36

I banned her books from our house a decade ago as I think there are a million better written books out there. I can't even remember which one annoyed me so much but I think they are all rubbish.

Maybe my dc have read a few at school but at least they do not offend me in our bookshelves.
That particular one sounds vile, but I'm not really surprised.

Eastpoint Wed 17-Jul-13 07:31:12

Morebiscuitsplease no Eastenders at our house, but it's an adult programme not aimed at 10-12 year olds isn't it?

yes Eastenders is banned in our house mainly because its depressing crap.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 17-Jul-13 07:42:20

Thanks for posting this OP, you've cemented my worries about JW. DD is 8 and has wanted to read Lola Rose for ages. I'd looked at the blurb and thought it sounded awful. I won't be allowing it.

YANBU. Fortunately my 12YO DD has outgrown JW. She is currently enjoying the Shopaholic series hmm. She managed to find them in her woefully understocked school library.
I have never liked JW, that bloody Beaker child had DD asking if she could be taken into care.

samandi Wed 17-Jul-13 08:17:09

Never heard of her. It sounds awful.

KoalaFace Wed 17-Jul-13 08:28:28

I read quite a lot of JW as a kid. I could read anything I wanted really, my mum never censored anything, which I've always appreciated. I have always thought my love of books stems from my freedom to pick up a pile of books at the library that I was excited about not just from the Young Adult section.

But my mum did make sure I wasn't watching anything i appropriate on TV or very sexual, violent movies. Hmmm now I'm wondering why the difference?

ElizabethHornswoggle Wed 17-Jul-13 08:34:52

FGS. It's. A. Book. Are we to start censoring works of fiction now? Where does that end then?
Half of you gasping and rolling around in shock at the theme have also said "I used to love this book, I didn't realise!"
Yes, because you were a child reading it. Not an adult looking at it through an adults eyes and perspective.
Should all kids just stick to Where's Spot? and Biff and Kipper's magic key, then?
This thread just proving why they're CHILDREN'S books and adult's shouldnt be re-reading them as they just suck the joy out of everything with their adult brains! smile

Peachyjustpeachy Wed 17-Jul-13 08:36:19

Jw is banned in our house. She has nothing to say that is welcome here. She actually said that kids are horrid these days. The reporter said....but you write about kids like this... And she said, I might write like that but it doesn't mean that I agree with it.

So a hypocrite as well!

cory Wed 17-Jul-13 08:42:30

I found JW good for discussions, but then I am an avid reader and used to sneak into dd's bedroom at night to nick her books (and get told off the next morning when she couldn't find them).

Not sure this is an impressionable teen problem, though: don't teens read older literature? Would have thought even the older range of JW was more for the 11-12yos.

SinisterBuggyMonth Wed 17-Jul-13 08:50:01

I was all Judy Blume and James Herbert when I was growing up. So were my friends. JW would have bored the hell out me.

ElizabethHornswoggle Wed 17-Jul-13 09:22:40

*But it's like saying that Shakespeare was irresponsible by writing about two teenagers who kill themselves because they can't be together, or Harper Lee by writing about an innocent man who ends up dead because of a racist jury, or John Steinbeck when one of his characters shoots his friend dead and appears to get away with it. All of those stories are routinely read and enjoyed by young teenagers.

One of the marvellous things about fiction is that it allows both author and reader to explore possibilities without having to actually experience events themselves. I think most kids reading a story like that would be angry about the treament of the protagonist. I understand that recent events would have any parent worried about their child crushing on a predatory adult, but that's no reason to be hysterical about a book.*

^^ This! Brilliant and exactly my point. Just put a lot more eloquently! grin

gordyslovesheep Wed 17-Jul-13 09:35:07

I refuse to ban books ...how oppressive ...do they get burned if you find one? My Dd1 loves JW ...she met her a few weeks ago and she was delightful ...she certainly seemed to like the 200+ kids she met and had pictures taken with after the event

People need to stop being so hysterical over works of fiction

ElizabethHornswoggle Wed 17-Jul-13 10:11:43

Well said gordyslovesheep

I find banning books totally oppressive too, and actually really sad. How can we teach our children a love of books if we start censoring and banning them?
There'd be no works of fiction if we followed that train of thought.

Enid Blyton? Too racist and sexist. Burn them all.

Roald Dahl? Too violent. Crunching up children's bones and leaving them under windowsills? Throwing crocodile up into the sun to get sizzled up like a sausage? Poisoning Grandma? Burn his books too.

Judy Blume? Too rude. Her boyfriend 'coming' on the rug in front of the fire?
Burn all her books too.

Where would it end? Banning books is a slippery slope and a sad state of affairs. You all really need to get a grip.

AmyFarrahFowlerCooper Wed 17-Jul-13 10:16:37

I don't think the book should be banned. I think its clear from my posts that I think the book should have some sort of message included inside to explain that it isn't a love story, its an abuse story, and that contrary to what happens in the book to the main character, in real life a child would be supported and helped rather than blamed for their abuse.

Bumpotato Wed 17-Jul-13 10:37:19

Around 2002 in my area there was a married with kids, 38 year old teacher in all the papers for having an affair with a pupil.

He was the religious and moral education head. She left the school and he didn't lose his job. In fact he's now head of RME at one of the local independent schools so it had obviously not done his career any harm.

Story seems true to life to me.

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