News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Author makes powerful argument for his book

By the time they are teenagers, many young people are emotionally scarred and bruised and need help. Those who survive their abusive childhood are often weighted with depression and guilt and have no self esteem.

They need help in understanding why their lives are so screwed up and need to know how to make them better. Their peers need to understand them, too, and relate to these in-need youngsters.

You might argue that "Whale Talk" is out of bounds for schools and that author Chris Crutcher presents the worst in society. But life is full of racism and prejudices. The book's about being accepted.

Some of the language is brutal. But in context, the book banned in Limestone County Schools is a roadmap out of this wilderness for youngsters who have nowhere else to turn. It may not be the perfect therapy, but it may be the only help that many youngsters get, in part, because they never reveal their hurts.

Mr. Crutcher, who was a full-time child abuse therapist for 15 years, qualifies to help these youngsters. And he says many need help. "When a teacher looks out over his or her classroom, he/she is looking at one in three girls who have been sexually mistreated, one in five boys."

Limestone County School board members banned the book in March on a split vote, then this week barred him from speaking to juniors and seniors at Clements High School.

He will be in Moulton on Monday for the first day of Banned Book Week and Tuesday at Athens Middle School for lunch.

Hopefully, during that time some of the Limestone County school officials will take time to talk to Mr. Crutcher about his book.

In an effort to protect children, adults sometimes deprive them of information they desperately need, and keep them from the sources to whom they will best relate, one of which is Mr. Crutcher's book.

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