Most Dutch children's books contain foul language


Western Europe

Photo ANP, Robin van Lonkhuijsen

Most Dutch children's books, 64 per cent, contain foul language. That is the conclusion of the annual investigation from the Dutch Union against Cursing.

The Union investigated 25 Dutch books that won literary prizes. The Union saw both swear words and curse words as foul language. "This ranges from single swear words to curse words", the union explained. One or more (corrupted) curse words appear in 48 per cent of the books surveyed. This is significantly more than in 2021, when this was the case in 23 per cent of books.

"Swearing and cursing in a children's book is not necessary. Writing a beautiful and exciting children's book is also perfectly possible without using coarse and insulting language. In this way, a book is really an example for our children," says Kees van Dijk, director of the Dutch Union against Cursing.

Last year, 46 per cent of books contained foul language, while the previous year the figure was 63 per cent. Despite the increase, Van Dijk does not want to focus too much on the record of 64 per cent. "Of all the books surveyed, 48 per cent contain only a few swear words. So, while there are more books containing coarse language, it is generally less frequent and less violent than in previous years. Therefore, there is cause for concern as well as joy."

With the survey, the association wants to make parents, teachers and other educators aware of what they let youngsters read. "If children read a lot of swearing and swearing words, they start to think it's normal," Van Dijk says. Instead, the union states it wants to promote respectful language.