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WTF, kids swearing earlier now, researcher says

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Children as young as two are now dropping f-bombs, with researchers reporting that more kids are using profanity — and at earlier ages — than has been recorded in at least three decades.

So finds data presented at this month's Sociolinguistics Symposium in the U.K., at which swearing scholar Timothy Jay revealed that the rise in vulgarity within adult culture dovetails with similar spikes in the number of youths using offensive language.

"By the time kids go to school now, they're saying all the words that we try to protect them from on television," says Jay, a psychology professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. "We find their swearing really takes off between (ages) three and four."

But if you want to understand why children are cussing more, he says you have to ask why their parents are, too. Jay, a profanity researcher for more than 30 years, finds two-thirds of adults with rules against swearing will themselves swear at home — a kind of lexical tick that's knit deeper into our neurons every day.

Certainly, when Kanye West closed the recent MTV Video Music Awards with a song toasting "douchebags" and "assholes," viewers could be forgiven for finding it redundant.

After all, not only had the previous two hours feted such crass characters as Chelsea Handler, the cast of Jersey Shore and West himself, you could argue the entire last decade has been in greater need of a bar of soap than any other before it.

It was only last month, of course, that flight attendant Steven Slater's profanity-laced tantrum, and subsequent getaway down an aircraft emergency chute, saw the malcontent rendered a working-class hero. Ironically, Slater blamed his actions on a passenger's "lack of civility."

As with so many things, experts say politicians may be to blame.

"There's a real coarseness right now in U.S. political culture. It's not a conversation; it's a rant," says Scott Schieman, a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto. "Broadly speaking, that sets up an overall tone where you have this constant aggressiveness."

Indeed, the U.S. president himself — normally a paragon of decorum — declared in a June TV interview that he wanted to know "whose ass to kick" over the Gulf oil spill.

In a more extreme example, tennis player Serena Williams made headlines at last year's U.S. Open not for her skill, but rather her salty language, having used the f-word liberally when threatening a line judge that she would, "take this (expletive) ball and shove it down your (expletive) throat."

Two months later, Williams was named Female Athlete of the Year in a landslide vote by members of The Associated Press.

Then there's Kanye.

Though he had his hand slapped for interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at last year's VMA's, the incident ultimately fed into his legend. The rapper, in fact, seemed more beloved than ever after last week's performance of the d-bag song — a raised middle finger disguised as winking self-deprecation.

"He just told everyone at the Video Music Awards to eat a dick, and they chant his name," Canadian DJ David Stone tweeted in amazement after West's performance. "I love this business."

Mel Gibson may prove a rare exception, with his verbal volleys to ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva having made the actor one of the most hated men in America. But if Charlie Sheen's continued popularity has shown us anything, it's that the public has a high tolerance for high-profile boorishness.

"The behaviour today is so outrageous, it almost entertains the public," says sociologist Benet Davetian, a leading civility expert and associate professor at the University of Prince Edward Island.

"It also has to do with the fact we live in the mothering decade; a therapeutic society where what's important is the rehabilitation of somebody."

Profanity researcher Jay observes that children are "little vacuums," sucking this all up. And while they aren't using worse cuss-words than in the past — the c-bomb, for instance, rarely reveals itself — they're adopting the old standbys with more frequency.

"As soon as kids can speak, they're using swear words," says Jay. "That doesn't mean they know what adults know, but they do repeat the words they hear."

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My youngest daughter won't allow swearing in our home. Both of my girls are dead set against it and surprise, surprise, we live in the liberal Northwest, are not a Southern Babtist type of family and I'm a registered Democrat (yes, I fit in with where I live). Both girls have associated little education, low social status and violent behavior with those that use foul language on a regular basis.

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Cursing has it's time and place to use (when in anger, in sports)..but it's become so overused in the popular culture (movies, music etc) that's lost it's impact. The general usage is boring and trite.

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"By the time kids go to school now, they're saying all the words that we try to protect them from on television,"

Oh right, free speech is ruining our society. The Internet is a fantastic stick in the eye to people with attitudes like this.

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I have ALWAYS had a potty mouth, and I definitely got it from my hot-tempered father.

Of course, I think it's funny when kids swear. Nothing is funnier to me than a toddler going "f@#k YEA!" when asked "Who wants to play on the playground?" on the first day of preschool...

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I never saw the big deal about swearing. The world isn't going to end by saying a few harmless little words.

Now, on the other hand, I don't generally use such words in public out of being polite and respectful.

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I never saw the big deal about swearing. The world isn't going to end by saying a few harmless little words.

Now, on the other hand, I don't generally use such words in public out of being polite and respectful.

I don't have a problem with it...as you said, they're just words.

Now I also have no qualms about saying them in public, though if I see small impressionable children I'll try to cut it back a smidge. It's an LA thing though...people really swear as much as Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie or the Kardashians in social situations. No joke...the f-bomb detonates quite frequently, even in professional settings.

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I have ALWAYS had a potty mouth, and I definitely got it from my hot-tempered father.

That's exactly where I got it from.

I also adopted one of my father's favorite pithy portmanteaus, "shit-ass". Such an effective, filthy word. It's especially fun to use in a fit of road rage when your behind someone in a Mustang GT driving 15 mph under the speed limit.

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It's an LA thing though...No joke...the f-bomb detonates quite frequently, even in professional settings.

Because this really bears repeating. Especially after today haha

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