If you grew up in the UK between the years of 1990 and 2010 (and even continued into now), you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t read a plethora of Jacqueline Wilson books.
She was the voice of a ‘millennial’ generation, helping them overcome struggles such as childhood death, trauma, underage romance and parental issues. But it seems that those children who grew up reading her novels are now turning back on their experiences, and after giving the issues discussed in the books a ‘re-think’, they’re deeming them ‘too inappropriate’ for their children to read.
[Featured Image Credit: Jacqueline Wilson]
On popular parenting advice and debate website, Mumsnet, one woman sent in a question about Wilson’s popular novel, Love Lessons – which sees the main character Prudence (Prue) fall madly in love with her teacher, Mr Raxberry, and the pair even starting an inappropriate relationship – despite the fact he’s her teacher, and is also married with children.
It is only when her friend calls out the relationship (which the teacher, Mr Rax tells Prue he has been ‘fantasising’ about for weeks following a kiss in his car) that the pair are forced to be separated, with Prue leaving the school and Mr Rex being allowed to stay on and continue his role.
The woman wrote: “At the moment in on a bit of a nostalgia kick book wise and have been reading all my old Jacqueline Wilson books. I’ve just finished rereading Love Lessons. Its about a lonely teenager (14) who falls “in love” with her male teacher who reciprocates the feelings and acts upon them.”
She then goes on to say: “When I read this as a teenager, I thought it was romantic and a really sad love story but now as an adult, all I can think is what on earth was JW thinking?! Teenage girls always get crushes on teachers but its like this book is saying to try and act on it because some teachers might love you back. And then when the girl is asked to leave the school, the things the head teacher says to her are appalling. Quotes:
“You should have thought of that before you started acting in this ridiculous and precocious manner. If I were another kind of head teacher I would have Mr Raxberry instantly suspended. There could even be a court case. He would not only lose his job, he could find himself in very serious trouble. Did you ever stop to think about that?” –> is complete victim blaming and ignoring (and failing to report) abuse.
“The girl says “none of this was his fault.” and the head teacher says “I’m inclined to believe you.” Again blaming the girl for what happened.
“Its like JW is saying that a 14 year old girl could be responsible for an adult male risking his job and taking advantage of a pupil. Like she should have been the one to say no. And she’s also saying that people in authority (the people someone abused should confide in) might think that way too. What will girls reading that book think? At no point does JW use the story to explain that this is abuse, the girl is a victim and that the teacher is responsible for the situation and not the girl.”
Many mums joined in with her debate on the thread, with many shocked and ‘horrified’ at the realisation of what they had been reading/allowing their children to read.
One mum wrote in response: “Wow, I remember watching that on tv when I was a teen. It didn’t even occur to me she was innocent and he was an abuser. thank you for bringing it up. <makes mental note to ban jw books>,” while another commented: “Oh my days! Dd has almost all jw newer books think I’m gonna be making sure there appropriate! Very dissapointed! No more jw books for dd!”[sic]
However some argued that it was a great talking point, that if you KNEW what the book entailed, you could allow your child to read it and then discuss further the themes that were present within the novel.
One user claimed: “It does sound bad. I’d probably let my child read it but use it as an opportunity to talk about it and explain that it is never the child’s fault and make sure they get that in their heads. I really don’t see the point in never exposing children to what are real life situations.”
Another labelled the author ‘though-provoking’, saying: “I’ve found JW to be thought provoking. I read the Illustrated Mum as a child, about a supposedly ‘cool’ mum, but was also irresponsible , had MH problems and ended up being sectioned. Is think meant to be a thinker?”
While books like this are good because they DO depict a world that is real and happening for teens of all ages, whether it be divorce, sexuality, death or parental circumstance, Jacqueline has definitely had the world talking for years. Should her content be ‘restricted’ from teenagers? Probably not – after all, speaking for myself I grew up on Jacqueline Wilson books and have not been ‘affected’ by the content I went on to read – but if you’re concerned about what ‘messages’ she is sending out, it might be good to sit down with your children beforehand and discuss further the themes that are mentioned.