Why I Believe Dancehall Music Should Not Be Banned

I agree that over the years, dancehall lyrics have become quit explicit. The music has been described as violent, vulgar, hostile, and promotes just about everything parents would like to shield their children from. Bad speech, sex, drugs and crime are at the top of the list.

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parental advisory logo

I agree that over the years, dancehall lyrics have become quit explicit. The music has been described as violent, vulgar, hostile, and promotes just about everything parents would like to shield their children from. Bad speech, sex, drugs and crime are at the top of the list.

In 2009, Dr. Hopeton Dunn, Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission in Jamaica stated in reference to regulating dancehall music that, The force of regulation that we want to be changed urgently is to give children a better chance of becoming part of the public audience and that they ought not to be misused or abused in the course of our broadcast transmission.

Whether or not dancehall music is played, children are already a part of the public audience. This is why children have designated, age-appropriate programming, and this is why parents have a responsibility to monitor what children are exposed to. They can decide not to play this type of music in their children's environment, or refrain from listening to stations where these songs are on heavy rotation. In any event, despite these concerns, I can't find it in my heart to support a ban on the genre.

I'm shocked that so many are on the bandwagon to eliminate dancehall music. Although the negative impact the lyrics have on children makes for a great argument. It's not a convincing argument. I can't help but wonder if some are using this cry to appease their guilt. Perhaps they fail to properly monitor their household, or are too busy to invest the necessary time and attention. The easy fix is to ban the music. There are many avenues that influence children in a negative way. Should we ban, censor, and eliminate all of these avenues? Well, we can't.

Banning expression is a slippery situation because it creates an umbrella. It opens the door to banning other forms of expression. This is how liberties are taken away. It's very subtle and it happens without us even realizing that we no longer have that particular privilege. What we need to realize is that banning a certain form of expression doesn't just affect the people who express themselves in that particular manner. Eventually, a ban of any kind affects us all.

Hence, there is no reason why parents shouldn't be all up in their children's business. Parents should know what their children listen to, who their friends are, what's on their iPod, and what they watch. We live in a world where no one wants to take responsibility, but parents are responsible for their children not dancehall artists. Parents should be the ultimate example. If parents took the time to create the desired environment and let children know what is expected of them, they will be less likely to listen to these X-rated lyrics. The older children get the more parents need to be present and play an active role in their lives. Consider how much attention a baby needs. Pre-teens and teenagers need twice as much attention and monitoring.

It's a fact that most Caribbean parents are afraid to have healthy conversations with their children about violence and sex. Perhaps we should stop blaming the music and address our inability to foster open dialogue. What's wrong with communicating to our teens the difference between healthy and dysfunctional sexual behaviour, teaching our boys how women should be viewed and treated, and explaining why this music doesn't identify with the values we want to instill. The solution is not removing the evil because there is always another evil waiting to present itself. The solution is creating the appropriate mindset within children.

I wasn't allowed to listen to certain songs when I was growing up. Granted, there were no iPods when I was growing up either. There was greater control over what I listened to because my music wasn't mobile. There was no such thing as Pandora, and I didn't have a cell phone. However, as an adult, there are certain artists and songs that I still don't listen to. Do I know that songs like Romping Shop are out there? Yes, but they are not a part of my environment. I don't listen to them.

Children are confronted with many avenues of pressure, and each situation is simply a matter of making sure they are equipped to make the best decision. We need to instill more of our core Christian values into our children, be the best example in the home, and stop blaming outside forces for our children going astray.

Photo Credit To Aspecks

Editor-in-Chief's Note: Ebonie Jones is a freelance contributor with MNI Alive