The Anti-Anniversary!

The country is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act this year, but on the other side of freedom, there’s another important anniversary to acknowledge as well: “On this day, in 1954, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency was closing out a second day of hearings.”

And, of course, one of the key speakers during the investigation was Dr. Fredric Wertham, who’s testimony before the committee helped to sway the senators to recommend the adoption of the comic book code, the self-imposed censorship that lead to the demise of much of the horror and crime comics from that period. What it didn’t lead to, though, was a decrease in juvenile delinquency. The numbers didn’t start to decline until the 1990s! The comic book code officially ended in 2012.

There has not been an increase in youth crime since the code was lifted.

In honor of this special day, we are reprinting our map of the comic book burning in America from the 1940s & 50s.




Document from the Dungeons and Dragons Hysteria

The “Studies in Crap” department at the Village Voice has a great post about Patricia Pulling’s 1989 moral panic book on the dangers of Dungeons and Dragons, ” The Devil’s Web.” Our favorite line from the commentary: “Note that there’s only three steps between enjoying Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and literal graverobbing. Seriously, if graverobbing becomes a “behavior pattern” the problem is probably your parenting.” Check it out (HERE)

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And in case you want to discourage personality traits that would make your child vulnerable, look out for these:Screen shot 2014-04-22 at 9.11.16 AM


It’s a BAD FOR YOU review roundup from the last few weeks. We’re really proud and pleased to have so many nice reviews and from a wide variety of perspectives. Abby Schachter, the first and most recent listed below, is a reviewer for the libertarian magazine Reason. But Bad For You‘s appeal also reaches vegan skateboarders. How do we know that? Because of the great review at Vegan Skate Blog!  

We have included short excerpts from the reviews below, but hope you’ll click the links and peruse them all the way through! Many thanks to the folks who have taken the time to read our book and write about it!!!

From Reason: “Bad for You isn’t a complete antidote to parental insecurity, but it does have a valuable lesson to convey: We don’t have to fall for every mass hysteria about the evils of texting, Marilyn Manson, Mortal Kombat, or Dungeons and Dragons.”

From Sandra Dodd: “I suspect this will be one of those books kids get in trouble for owning or quoting, and that will be shared around at school, hidden under desks, and confiscated by teachers. Knowledge is power, and ephebiphobics Do NOT want kids to have power.”

From Vegan State Blog: “The title and cover practically scream out to any skateboarder…who has dealt with cops, security guards or over-zealous citizen. The book not only covers skateboarding, growing fears of new technologies, but goes in depth on subjects like Zero-Tolerance policies that have resulted in children’s suspension from elementary school for possession of nail clippers.”

University Laboratory High School Library Blog: “In the technology chapter there are a number of delicious digs at Internet filtering software, one of my favorite things to demonize. The ‘Moral Panic Media Cycle’ and the ‘Techno-Panic Timeline’ pages are suitable for framing.”

From The Alliance Review: “If you’re a kid who’s ever been told that texting will rot your brain or pop music is immoral or video games are turning you into a zombie, you need to read Bad for You.”

And here’s an older one from School Library Journal we missed in December: “Classroom uses for this title abound. Teens, particularly fans of the graphic format, will glom onto this fascinating book, which will give them one more reason not to trust the “’establishment’.”




Anyone who knows me (me being co-author Scott Cunningham) knows I’m obsessed with Bigfoot. I even did a webcomic for a while called Lil’ Bigfoot. So if I see anything about this (probable) mythic creature, who also goes by the name Sasquatch, I simply must check it out. While the title of this new book, The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws, turns out to be a bit deceptive (it hardly anything about Bigfoot hunting in it), it still sounds like a great read. It also overlaps into territory covered in BAD FOR YOU, at least the parts of our book which focus on rules and regulations that rob kids of ways of having fun (and, in the long run, don’t seem to make a lot of sense). Our friends at Boing Boing do a good job and explaining what The Emergency Sasquatch is all about here.




BAD FOR YOU authors Kevin C. Pyle and Scott Cunningham will be presenting a slideshow/reading on Wednesday, Feb. 26th from 7:00-8:00 pm at Watchung Booksellers, 54 Fairfield Street, Watchung Plaza, Montclair, NJ. The bookstore is great about supporting local authors, which is mighty handy since Kevin lives nearby. Though Scott lives in Brooklyn, he is a loco author, which is close enough. For further information you can call Watchung Booksellers at 974-744-7177.




Birds sing. Flowers bloom. Hearts and cute animals. Stuff you see on vintage Valentine’s Day cards school kids once  exchanged. But what would the cards look like if, instead of offering affection, they alerted children to the things about the holiday that could be BAD FOR YOU?


SAUDI ARABIA has a Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice that hopes to clip any budding romance by prohibiting the sale of red roses on Valentine’s Day (though there’s a thriving black market for them). Selling anything shaped like a heart is also off-limits. Such conduct could lead young people “astray.” Or to jail: in 2012, they  arrested 140 people for Feb 14th infringements.

Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country to crack down on Valentine’s Day. There’s a ban on the holiday in Iran, too. Malaysian officials have warned Muslims against celebrating; in Pakistan, TV and radio stations are encouraged not to broadcast anything too romantic. Last year, the day before Valentine’s, nearly 500 elementary school students in Surakarta, Central Java marched in protest against youths in their city who do celebrate the day. It ended at the stadium where the kids colored slips of paper (probably not red and probably not heart-shaped) to just say “no” to Valentine’s Day. Another Java mayor, this time in Pekanbaru, likewise said it was a no-no at the schools within his jurisdiction because of those “negative activities” associated with the day. Closer to home, the Tennessee Senate said “Yes-Yes” to update an abstinence-based sex education law redefining hand holding as a “gateway sexual activity” (and that’s not just on Valentine’s Day).


CANON CITY, COLORADO: Smooch a girl’s hand during music class and you can be accused of “sexual harassment”  – even if you’re a first grader. According to the boy’s mother, the girl and her son were “crushes” at the time and it wasn’t the girl who complained – it was the class tattle-tails (but isn’t it always?). The public kiss-and-tell sent Mom to the principal’s office: “That was the day I had the meeting. . .where [the principal] first said ‘sexual harassment’” – words that are now stamped on the kid’s permanent record.

Seem a bit young? Well, during the 2005-06 school year, Maryland kindergartens were seemingly teeming with sex offenders: 28 suspensions that school year – 15 for sexual harassment. Take for example the five-year-old Lincolnshire Elementary student who pinched a classmate’s bottom. “He knows nothing about sex,” the kid’s father protested. But it doesn’t matter if a kid is too young to understand the meaning of sexual harassment. “[I]f it fits under the definition,” according to the Washington Country Schools spokeswoman, “then it is….”


WACO, TEX: A four-year-old decided to give his teacher’s aide a hug while waiting for the bus outside La Vega Primary school. She decided that his face rubbed her chest. The school sided with the aide and then they decided to give the boy a preschool, in-school suspension for inappropriate sexual behavior. After his angry dad complained to the local news that it was a misinterpreted embrace, the school downgraded the boy’s hug to “inappropriate physical contact.”

Now if you think what the school did was “inappropriate” then maybe you haven’t heard of “Zero Tolerance.” The name was first used to describe federal anti-drug law enforcement policies in the 1980s which was designed to send a strong message to criminals by punishing both major and minor drug offences harshly. After a few years, schools decided to zero in on kids. By 1989, school districts in New York, California, and Kentucky had mandatory automatic expulsion for drugs, fighting, or violence. Eight years later, it was amended to cover anything that could be used as a weapon; soon, “Zero Tolerance” was expanded by local school districts to cover lots of things: from cell phones to physical contact – anything a school decides is “disruptive behavior.” Like hugging.


SALEMWOOD, MASS: On Feb. 14th, 2013, this elementary school didn’t exchange VD cards; instead, the kids swapped “Friendship cards.” Explaining that they didn’t want to offend any of the 67 different cultures found at the school, Principal Carol Keenan made sure “every single student” got a friendship card: “I didn’t want some students feeling left out.”

To make sure no one felt left out at Ashcombe Primary School in England, they left everyone out! The objective was to spare students the “emotional trauma” of rejection, so they rejected Valentine’s Day cards instead. The school believed that the children weren’t mature enough “emotionally and socially to understand the commitment involved in having or being a boyfriend or girlfriend.” Or the commitment involved in exchanging a greeting card either. In Calgary, Canada, they used an eco-friendly excuse to discard cards: “Imagine the trees we are saving by not exchanging cards in our school,” read a note sent home with the students. A note, one should note, that was written on paper. A student at James Madison Elementary School in Sheboygan, Wis. couldn’t deliver his holiday notes because of what was written on them: “Jesus Loves You” and “John 3:16.” School officials still allowed him to pass out his bags of candy hearts, but the religious references had to go. At least the kids got the candy (if not the message).


SAN DIEGO, CAL.:  In 2007 Rancho Elementary decided that the school should encourage “healthier” Valentine choices. This left  students with limited decoration options: adding “sequins, buttons, pipe cleaners and wiggly eyes. . .to pieces of fruit.” Under the circumstances, the kids tried their best, even penning cute phrases to accompany their – ahem – treats, including: “You’d make a grape Valentine!” and “Orange you glad it’s Valentine’s Day?”

At nearby Temecula Elementary, sweets were also in short supply. At Wednesday’s Valentine Brunch, kids had a choice of fruit, carrots, granola and nuts. Granola? But you know what’s worse? Valentine origami. That’s what the principal of Horace Mann School, Newton Mass. suggested the kids exchange after he implemented a candy bar em-bar-go at the school.

While it’s hard for a kid to truly “heart” a “heart-healthy” treat, no one is going to argue that too much candy isn’t bad for you. But what if too little of something is bad for you, too. In a recent study, scientists tracked the amount of high-fives, chest bumps and backslaps between NBA teammates; they found “that the more on-court touching there was early in the season, the more successful teams and individuals were by season’s end,” even after factoring in differences in players’ skill-level and salaries. Rick Chillot, who’s article, “The Power of Touch” in Psychology Today, surveyed recent touching studies, describes how “seemingly insignificant touches yield bigger tips for waitresses, that people shop and buy more if they’re touched by a store greeter, and that strang- ers are more likely to help someone if a touch accompanies the request.” “They just feel there’s a connection,” explains Laura Guerrero, coauthor of Close Encounters: Communication in Relationships. “They feel that they like that person more.”

Better put the brakes on that!

Special thanks to Phillip S. Pittz


One of BAD FOR YOU’s favorite websites, Free Range Kids, has excerpted a section of text from our new book. Lenore Skenazy, the host of Free Range Kids, as well as the author of the great Free Range Kids book (available at Amazon here) has painstakingly stripped away the graphics from our Moral Panic Media Cycle chart to fit the format of her website, just so she could run a section of BAD FOR YOU — which we really appreciate (there’s also a section of the original chart as well).

Many thanks Lenore!