I Hate “Kids”

By Maeve Maddox

No, I don’t hate children, young people, babies, infants, toddlers, adolescents, teenagers, or youth. I hate the universal use of the word “kid” or its plural to denote any and all of the categories of juvenile human beings.

The word “kid” has its uses, certainly. It can be a friendly word, a loving word–in certain contexts. It does not, however, belong in every context.

Words have connotations, subtle nuances of meaning that color the denotation of the word. When writers begin to use certain words as if one size fits all, meanings become distorted and underlying facts are distorted.

The word “kid” has so many connotations that it is rarely the best choice in the context of news reporting.

In addition to conveying youthfulness, the word “kid” has connotations of irresponsibility, poor judgment, innocence, and mischievousness. Adult behavior is not expected of “kids.” “ Kids will be kids”. “Kids” are not to be taken seriously. Whatever “kids” do should be forgiven, because, after all, they’re “just kids.” And since “kids” are not adults, what they do doesn’t matter quite as much.

These connotations become problematic in a news story that reports misbehaving juveniles who vandalize stores and cemeteries and beat homeless people to death. By calling these young criminals “kids,” the reporter is unconsciously asking the reader to make allowances for their behavior. News writers need to think twice before referring to accused rapists as “kids.”

I am probably beating a dead horse. A new medical facility is under construction in my area. It’s going to be called the “Kids’ Clinic.” I’m just waiting for the day when I go to an art museum and see a portrait of the Blessed Virgin and Baby Jesus labeled “Mother and Kid.”

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11 Responses to “I Hate “Kids””

  • Andrew Flusche

    Maeve,

    This is a great post! I really love your last line about the Blessed Virgin. 🙂

    I used the word “kid” in an assignment in 9th grade English. My teacher wrote “a baby goat?” in the margin. I still use the word incorrectly sometimes, but I’ll always remember that comment.

    Andrew

  • Jordan (MamaBlogga)

    Seriously. When I was pregnant with my son, my husband referred to him as “kid.” I took great offense and let him know.

    Sometimes, though, it’s okay in speech (just like ‘okay’ is okay in speech), but never in formal writing.

  • Maxine

    Thank you! I’ve always used “child” and “children,” except when addressing adults in a humor piece, i.e., “Hey, Kidz!” I think calling one’s children “kids” sounds low class.

  • Alex Putel

    Same here. I have began having strong dislike of the word ‘kid’ that I almost entirely exclude it in my vocabulary. For itself, it is not a decent word. Being partially similar from ‘child’ and sounding ‘hard’ and rather unfriendly. Despite it is defined for young people from infants to youth which if it were obsolute, there would be no word for this definition.

    What’s more is the word’s definition has perhaps modified in recent times. Now it is often used on boys much more than girls for some reason, a modification that has gave me a grudge to it. This is unacceptable, as well as an adult equivalent to kid, ‘guy’.

    I just can’t grow on this word. Although I haven’t always disliked it, in recent times, me often referred to it, seeing countless number of comments with it on males has established my abhor to it… The plural form ‘kids’ is not as bad if still unsuitable especially used for whom is the same gender.

    Well that was a little long. Although here I felt it was a place to express about the word, I hope you didn’t mind this.

  • Herb

    Every connotation for the word “kid” that you mention also pertains to the word “child,” as in “childish.” I would agree that in formal or academic writing “kid” is not the best choice, but informally it can carry connotations of affection and even intimacy. The great majority of us, I suspect, don’t see in it anything more than a less formal way to address our kids and those of others. You see, I love my two kids and my grandkids so that for me, the word has lots of positive associations. it is what we make it.

  • Emma

    Next to an art display in my high school, the teacher put up a sign warning not to touch the artwork because “the kids would be so disappointed if you broke something.” My first thought was, why refer to high school students as “kids”, especially in the context of showing how they could create beautiful and insightful artwork? Why not just call them “students”? If it were a display of elementary-school artwork, and the appeal were instead “look at the cute artwork that the kids made”, that would be okay.

  • ELH

    Great article! Think of it this way: A kid is a baby goat. When referring to a juvenile human, I consider it slang. I think that “kid” and “kids” are used in the media and in advertising to cater to non-adults who think themselves older or more mature than “children.” In formal or journalistic writing, use the term child or juvenile, whichever is appropriate. Or be more specific and use the term adolescent or teenager if you’re referring to an older “kid.”

  • Nick Trusiewicz

    Wasted time and energy. Just accept that people have been using it in the vernacular for years. Not appropriate in a written context, but it’s used without any negative connotations, unless there is a noticeable spoken emphasis on the word.

    I’d rather get upset about “impacted.” Not that it does me any good. I still think of “impacted” as used for a tooth.

  • Gabrielle

    Kids are kids; mostly noisome, rude and unbearable, until they grow older and then they’re no longer ‘kids’, they’ve become young adults – wonderful to know.

  • Penny

    Gabrielle is right. I work in a market, and encounter many ‘kids’ on a daily basis.

  • Matt

    The term “kids” sounds fine to me in an informal setting, but certainly in more formal, written language, “children” would be more appropriate. Around a year ago, I remember a news reporter on the BBC being criticised by some people for using “kids” instead of children. In my opinion, “children” would have been more appropriate on a news broadcast as I feel it is important to keep formality on the news. Of course, context is important here with the uses of “kids” and “children”.

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