In defense of high school students writing dark things

Recently, Vinnie made me aware of a student who has been suspended for writing somewhat dark poetry (

I think that if we proceed down this path, we are doing our children a grave disservice.

My suspicions are that people who write about the dark things going on in their mind.. suicide, violence.. are the people who don’t act on those thoughts. Getting things out on paper actually helps some of us clear them from our minds, and also gives us the ability to see them in context. That’s not even going into the freedom of speech issues involved. I think it would be very unhealthy for us to insist that high school students not talk or write about the darker sides of the things they think, especially since they are immersed in a culture of violence. [It still angers me that you can show someone getting blown into tiny pieces in a PG-13 movie, but not people having sex – even though pretty much all healthy people have some sexuality in their lives and normally it is a happy thing that does not hurt people, whereas very few of us are gunning people down and whenever it does happen it’s certain to be a tragedy]

I don’t have anything but intuition to go on but I’m thinking that people who bottle up their dark thoughts instead of facing them (possibly by writing about them) are far more likely to go postal.

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