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Posted by Tim Bryce on June 21, 2010

I’ve noticed profanity has become a natural part of the teenager vernacular lately, perhaps excessively so. I know teachers and parents who are very much concerned with this and are at a loss as to how to handle it. In my school days, we were all well aware of the words but knew better to use them in the presence of adults as schools still practiced corporal punishment back then. If you got out of line, you weren’t just sent to detention, you were swatted with a paddle.

A lot has changed since then. Today, only 20 states in the country allow corporal punishment in schools (not including here in Florida). As many as 25 countries have outlawed it altogether. I guess this is another area where lawyers have gotten involved and threatened lawsuits on behalf of irate parents who refuse to discipline their own children and subject the rest of us to these clods.

In studying this issue, I noticed all 50 states in the country allow corporal punishment on the part of parents. Yet, I wonder how many parents actually exercise such action. Again, back when I was a kid, if you got out of line, the old man would take a belt to your hide or your mother would wash your mouth out with soap if you spoke foul language (as happened to Ralphie in the movie, “A Christmas Story”). My great grandmother would use a switch or fly swatter if necessary. Such corporal punishment was not unique to my family as just about every kid on the block was keenly aware of the penalties for stepping out of line. It’s called, “cause and effect”; if you screwed-up, you had to suffer the consequences. Believe me, we would have much preferred to have been “grounded” than face the wrath of a displeased parent. Being “grounded” just didn’t exist back then.

I’m not sure why teens use profanity excessively; perhaps it is to appear “cool” or something they learned through the media, but it sure seems they drop the “F-bomb” as if it is a common everyday word. I’m no saint myself when it comes to swearing, but as an adult you realize there is a time and place for everything and you tend to use it more judiciously than our youth. Excessive use of profanity does two things; first, it waters down the effect of the word. Whereas profanity is normally used to stir emotions, inordinate use negates its effect. Second, excessive profanity is a significant indicator of someone’s intellect. Rudimentary language reflects a rudimentary intellect. I am reminded of the old maxim whereby, “Profanity is the attempt of a lazy and feeble mind to express itself forcefully.”

When youth uses profanity in the presence of adults, it does not threaten or embarrass adults as much as it causes the youth in question to lose all credibility in the adult’s eyes. It is just not smart to do. I find it rather amusing when youth resorts to primitive profanity as opposed to articulating their position. It most definitely does not make them look more mature.

As for me personally, I tend to think of profanity along the same lines as Mark Twain who said, “In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.” Amen!

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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