Language, Sex, Violence Drive Support for Kid Book Bans

April 13, 2011

harris-availability-books-in-school-libraries-apr11.gifSix in 10 (62%) US adults say school libraries should not provide children with books containing explicit language, while close to half support banning books containing references to sex (45%) and violence (48%) from schools, according to results of a new Harris Poll.

Most Want Kids to Have Access to Religious, Evolutionary Texts

A strong majority says that children should be able to get The Holy Bible (83%), and smaller majorities also say so for other religious texts such as the Torah or Talmud (59%) and the Koran (57%), but approximately a quarter say these texts should not be available (24% and 28%, respectively) to children in school libraries.

In addition, three in four (76%) adults agree that children should be able to obtain books that discuss evolution from school libraries.

Adults Less Sure about Books Featuring Supernatural, Substances

Half or more of adults say that children should be able to get books with vampires (57%), books with references to drugs or alcohol (52%) and books with witchcraft or sorcery (50%) in school libraries, but between 34% and 41% say that each of these types of books should not be available there.

Older Americans More in Favor of Kid Book Bans, Except Bible

harris-books-ban-in-school-libraries-by-age-apr11.gifOlder Americans are significantly more likely than those younger to say each type of book listed should not be available in school libraries with one exception. Echo Boomers (aged 18-34) are more likely than Matures (aged 66 and older) to say that The Holy Bible should not be available to children in school libraries (15% compared to 9%).

In addition, women are more likely than men to think each type of book listed should not be available to children in school libraries with the exception of the religious texts (The Holy Bible, the Torah, Talmud and Koran), which men are slightly more likely to say should not be available.

Furthermore, the more education one has, has the less likely one is to say that each type of book listed should not be available to children in school libraries (there is between an eight- and 25- percentage-point difference between those who have a post-graduate education and those who have not attended college on what types of books should not be available to children in school libraries).

Almost 1 in 5 Say Some Books Need Complete Ban

harris-bookban-complete-apr-2011.JPGWhen asked if some books should be completely banned (not just for schoolchildren), almost one in five (18%) survey respondents said yes and 56% said no, with a substantial 26% not being sure. Banning books gains popularity with age, steadily rising from 13% support among Echo Boomers to 29% support among Matures.

Politically, self-identified conservatives (26%) are more than twice as likely as self-identified liberals (12%) to support completely banning certain books, with moderates (15%) supporting the idea slightly more than liberals.

As with figures on supporting book bans for children, more educated respondents were less likely to support the idea of complete book bans than less educated respondents. Those with a high school diploma or less also had a much higher rate of not being sure (31%) than respondents of any other educational level, who were much more likely to respond “no.”

Social Networks Get Poor Rating for Protecting Kids’ Privacy

Adults seem more concerned about protecting children from the internet than from books, according to recent data from nonprofit social advocacy group Common Sense Media and Zogby International. Three quarters of parents (75%) and 71% of adults say they would rate the job social networks are doing to protect children’s online privacy as negative, with 45% of adults and 44% of parents saying their job is poor. Just 5% of adults and 6% of parents rate the job online social networks are doing positively, with virtually no respondents giving a rating of excellent.

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