Why is The Outsiders banned?

The Outsiders is frequently challenged and has been banned in some instances, often by religious groups, for its depiction of gang violence, substance abuse, and broken homes.

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When it was first published in 1967, S. E. Hinton'sThe Outsiders was both revolutionary and controversial. In the history of literature intended for young adults, The Outsiders is a milestone for the frankness with which it portrays poverty, class prejudice, gang violence, substance abuse, explicit language, familial dysfunction,...

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When it was first published in 1967, S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders was both revolutionary and controversial. In the history of literature intended for young adults, The Outsiders is a milestone for the frankness with which it portrays poverty, class prejudice, gang violence, substance abuse, explicit language, familial dysfunction, teenage sexual interests, and death. Nowadays, the book is considered a classic that can still connect with teen readers today because of this very honesty and reluctance to sentimentalize the adolescent experience. However, according to the American Library Association, it is also still among the most frequently challenged books.

The Outsiders remains frequently challenged for its more mature content. Some parents believe the book's content is too dark for their children to read and that by withholding it from them, they are protecting them from being traumatized. Other parents and church groups have challenged the book for moral or religious reasons, thinking the book glamorizes gang violence and teen delinquency. The bottom line is that adults believe the book will make young readers imitate the bad behavior of the characters, even though the book itself depicts such behavior as bad and only leading to violence and misery.

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S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders is considered dangerous by some people because it depicts violence as well as behaviors that are not deemed acceptable in minors, like drinking and smoking. Additionally, the portrayal of the Curtis brothers and the lives of their friends, like Johnny Cade, reveal uncomfortable realities of familial instability and the damaging effect it can have on adolescents. Some groups who have banned the book felt that the book's descriptions of the conflicts between the Greasers and the Socs idealized and glamorized gangs and gang warfare. Some families have protested the book because they felt that the bad language, the deaths, and the violence were all too harsh for their children, who were not ready to read about such events in a novel. The focus on troubled young people and the absence of positive adult role models in The Outsiders is also problematic to some people.

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The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton may be banned in areas where parents and guardians believe it contains too much "mature" content and would negatively impact their children. For instance, multiple scenes center around gang violence, a result of the mounting tension between the Greasers and the Socs. Ponyboy's group of friends also swear, curse, smoke, drink, and pursue girls with patently sexual intentions. 

The predominant reason why schools remove this book from the curriculum, however, is the depiction of gang violence. However, religion played a rather large role in promoting the idea that this was a "bad" book and exposed children to unseemly content. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, following the 1967 publication of the book, Christian groups mobilized around banning the book in American schools, saying it contained and encouraged "ungodly" themes and behavior not suitable for teenagers. 

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