C-Word on Today Show: Do Kids Really Think It's OK?

Jeanne Sager

Kayla Manson c-word
Photo from Today
By now the video of Kayla Manson, 13, saying the "c-word" on The Today Show has gone viral and with it Meredith Vieira apologizing to the audience.

Vieira says it's her fault for asking the teen about the text messages related to the beating of Florida teen Josie Ratley. Said Vieira, Manson didn't know you couldn't say those words on TV.

Really? At 13 she didn't know the c-word is inappropriate?

I've been hearing all too often lately that words like these don't have the same connotation for our youth, and we should give them a break.

We give them a pass. Just as Lady Gaga has created an image of herself that, as Jezebel's Hortense pointed out this week, she uses to excuse the poorest of behavior (see also flipping off the media at a Mets game), today's teen lives in the bubble of "kids today ... insert sigh."

My daughter said "ass" last week. I didn't give her a break. I told her we don't say that word, and we moved on.

That's all it takes -- correcting our kids when it happens.

Simple, huh?

I'm not saying it won't happen again. My daughter just turned 5, and she will hear plenty of bad language on the bus. I learned both the m-f word and a-hole on the bus at 5, which I then turned and used on my then infant brother. My mother was so horrified I still remember the tongue lashing I got.

And I rarely if ever use those words.

I certainly never say the c-word. I can't even type it here. At the most, I've said, "See You Next Tuesday" in reference to it, and usually in horror. I don't want to take ownership of it and make it less powerful.

I want to distance myself as far from it as possible.

Child development expert Betsy Brown Braun told me in a recent interview that I should be relieved that my daughter tests out bad words at home. It's natural testing of the limits, she says, rather than a failure of us as parents.

But it's also an opportunity for us as parents to nip the practice in the bud while they're still just, well, practicing.

I don't have it all right either -- my child did, after all, just say "ass" because I'd slipped and said it in front of her. But Braun made me feel immensely better.

All it seems to take is proactive parenting.

And not giving the kids a pass.

Do your kids know the c-word is inappropriate?

Read More