What the Kids Say about Hip Hop

With sexual or violent themes running rampant through much of today’s hip-hop hits, parents wonder just how this music affects their kids. Here’s what the kids have to say:

• Andrew, 13, of New York, says parents shouldn’t be afraid of the music. “It doesn’t really influence the kids to act like the songs say. Some of it is violent or inappropriate, but parents should look behind it. It’s lyrically expressive and other people should get to hear and know it.”

• Maggie, 12, who takes lessons from hip-hop dance instructor Kelly Peters in Cambridge, Mass., says the break dancing “makes me feel special. I can do something other kids can’t.”

• Maggie’s younger sister, Ellie, 9, says hip hop has taught her about another culture and that the dancing helps her get her energy out. While some song lyrics may have sexual overtones, Ellie says she believes kids her age and even mature teens would not act on those lyrics.

• Anna, 18, a college student in California, started listening to hip hop in eighth grade. She was first attracted to Eminem. “He was different. I was tired of the love songs I heard over and over,” she says.

There’s no denying that some of the lyrics push the envelope, but, Anna says, many youths are simply listening. “Just because you listen to the music, doesn’t mean you’re going to act out what they’re singing about. It’s like watching a good movie, like Clockwork Orange, which is incredibly violent. It’s a window into another world.”

Return to> Hip Hop ‘in da House’: Why the Music and Culture Appeal to Kids But Worry Many Parents

– Morgan Baker