YOUNG MINDS 10
Snip of the tongue
If we were to imagine that our lives are actually in the format of a TV sitcom, the most heard sounds would be insane laughter from the audience and loud beeps at strategic points in the narrative for we have a great fondness for profanity. We have begun increasingly to resort to cuss words when faced with the task of articulating our emotions. We’d sooner blurt out an expletive in anger and frustration, in sadness, or even in appreciation of something, than find appropriate qualifiers of our experience. As much as swearing seems to offer relief from built-up tension, it can cause more harm than good when used in the long run.
Throwing around foul words in school with the intention of causing humiliation to a classmate constitutes a nasty form of verbal bullying and can invite unpleasant consequences in the form of negative evaluation by teachers and maybe even suspension. Students can run the risk of being labelled with a negative tag if caught using profane language against others. Such isolated incidents are enough for many to run out of favour with teachers- even if one has an impeccable academic record.
Cussing creates a negative impression of the individual as they may be considered to be lacking in social skills. Very often we tend to swear when we are unable to stop and think when we are experiencing a strong emotion and instead react instantly. This difficulty with self-control can be misconstrued as lack of civility and surely we can do without the added burden of a negative assessment by our peers and teachers.
If you have ever been at the receiving end of an insulting slur made by your classmates, you already know the toxic effects that swearing lends to the general school environment. A culture of cussing at friends and teachers creates a hostile, alienating and threatening climate and this greatly interferes with students’ peace of mind and eventually, the learning process.
One of the least desirable effects of swearing, however, is that one does not learn healthy ways to express their feelings and thoughts. Enriching one’s emotional vocabulary to verbalise negative and positive emotions can lend more meaning and significance to one’s experience. Use of inoffensive, alternative words to communicate why you are upset with a situation or a person can reduce the need to use expletives. Developing appropriate strategies to tolerate frustration/disappointment in difficult situations and to manage anger effectively can facilitate coping rather than cussing.
Reach out to like-minded friends that you trust and form a “buddy system” in which each supports the other in challenging instances, such as when dealing with a difficult teacher or an annoying classmate, and keeps you from losing your cool and giving into cursing. Simply avoiding the person who is the cause of your anger is a great way to contain your bad mood. Art, music, dance, and even play have been proven time and again to promote a positive frame of mind and any kind of physical exertion helps dissipate angry energy.
It is very important to remember that you aren’t told not to swear by your parents and teachers just because they enjoy doling out advice to you. Use of slang and foul language hardly seem like any crime to people who engage in it but for the person who is subjected to this, it constitutes verbal abuse, which is a serious matter that schools are aware of and increasingly becoming intolerant towards.
Let’s make a commitment to contributing towards a safe, welcoming and healthy school atmosphere in which differences between people on the basis of backgrounds, opinions and ideas are celebrated and respected.
SANGEETHA MADHU & JYOTHI RAVICHANDRAN,
THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS- SCHOOL EDITION