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What would an 8th grader do?!

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Hi y'all! I've been asked to revise a YA down to 8th grade! :ahh  I know this is not impossible - but I have a couple of questions (since I'm currently without Middle Grade kids in my life.) First off - my MC is mature (as in very smart & well-read) and probably 13 years old. (Is that the right age for 8th grade?)

1. Would a mature 8th grader been shocked that a senior got pregnant?
2. Would kids in 8th grade be allowed to watch Law & Order?
3. Would same mature 8th grader be allowed to watch Alfred Hitchcock movies?

That is all - for now! :D

:thankyou
#1 - October 13, 2011, 05:30 AM
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Is it really important that your MC be a "typical" 8th grader, if such an animal even exists? I'll believe that an 8th grader can be an astronaut -- if you do your job and make me believe.

Seems to me your questions reflect home life and parental values more than anything. If your parents come off as the type who would allow all that, then it will be believable.

If the parents aren't in the picture much, then we'll judge based on your MC's other behaviors. Do they form a consistent pattern? E.g., a kid who gets upset when other kids swear in his presence might not be allowed to watch Law & Order.

Anyway, don't kids like to read about kids who are more mature than themselves, secretly believing that they are that way themselves, or have the potential for being so?

Still. 8th grade really is pretty old, and the stuff you're describing is peanuts.
#2 - October 13, 2011, 05:42 AM

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My 8th grader is 14--he's on the old side, so 13/14 is fine.

I think an 8th grader might get shocked that a particular senior gets pregnant, but not that seniors in general could get pregnant.
Depends on the parents.
Depends on the parents.

And I agree with Jeff--your MC doesn't have to be typical, just believable.
#3 - October 13, 2011, 05:47 AM
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No, yes, yes

13-14 for 8th grade

When I taught 7th grade twenty years ago, I had students who were sexually active .. and even when I was in 8th grade...over 30 years ago... girls were getting pregnant in 8th and 9th grade. By 12th grade, it was very common to see pregnant students .. and married students had to have their spouses sign their graded papers. Seriously.

I don't know how this varies by region. My husband went to high school in an area very close to an Ivy League University .. I went to school in a depressed town with racial unrest and a military base as the major employer. Our experiences were totally different --- so I think a lot would depend on the region/community/type of school you place these characters in.
#4 - October 13, 2011, 05:49 AM
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You guys are great! I knew I could count on the blueboarders!!! Thanks so much! :thankyou
#5 - October 13, 2011, 06:05 AM
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I think a lot would depend on the region/community/type of school you place these characters in.

I can speak to that. I live in a very rural, religiously-conservative part of the country. Parents do monitor what their kids watch on TV, and local theaters think twice before engaging an R-rated movie. OTOH, teen pregnancy is quite common. You don't hear about it a lot because so many of them get married before childbirth. <sigh>
#6 - October 13, 2011, 06:17 AM

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Well, living in a big city, and having a 13 yr old in eighth grade, I'd agree with lillian:
no, yes, yes

There are exceptions, but that profile would fit most eighth graders.
#7 - October 13, 2011, 06:58 AM
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Hi Julia,

I have a 13-year old 8th grader.

yes, mine would
some do, not mine, though
hmm...not sure...though these seem more mild than Law and Order, right?  So maybe.

Have fun! 

Jody
#8 - October 13, 2011, 07:34 AM
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I agree with everyone else. My 14 year old freshman just told me very casually that another freshman just found out she was 8 months pregnant. And then went to grab a bag of chips like it was no big deal.
#9 - October 13, 2011, 07:36 AM
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My daughter is in 7th and my son is in 10th, so I have some recent experience and some coming up. The age is right. They should be 12-14 in 8th grade.

1. Would a mature 8th grader be shocked that a senior got pregnant? Not in this day and age, at least not those raised in or near a city.

2. Would kids in 8th grade be allowed to watch Law & Order? In all but the most anti-TV families, yes. Ours happens to be one of those, but a lot of kids that age watch whatever they want, especially when parents aren't looking.

3. Would some mature 8th grader be allowed to watch Alfred Hitchcock movies? Allowed? Absolutely. They might even have to be hounded into it because “old movies are slow and black and white and they talk about weird stuff like WWII.”
#10 - October 13, 2011, 08:26 AM
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I have a 10 year old and am around lots of jr. high kids. :)

1) Not shocked about pregnancy today just on the basis of pregnancy. If it were a close friend and they didn't expect it, then shock could work, like "But Jane was going to college and she didn't even have a boyfriend... what's she gonna do now..." that could work.
2) Law and Order - I kind of think *I* was watching Law and Order in 8th grade - but probably I'm not that young. ;) Yes, they could be. I probably would let my daughter if she was as into crime tv as I was. That said - I know *lots* of families that wouldn't allow it. I'd say it wouldn't seem out of the norm if your character did watch it, but you could write it convincingly if you wanted him/her to not be allowed to see it, also.
3) Alfred Hitchcock - absolutely.
#11 - October 13, 2011, 08:41 AM
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I agree that your second two questions depend largely on the parents. I can see the Hitchcock going over better, simply because it's old.

As to the first question, yes, I think kids this age are aware of this possibility. But I did want to say that their reaction depends not only on their family upbringing/where they live, whatever, but also if it's a boy or a girl. I have an 8th grader BOY, and while he would be well aware of this possibility, even bringing up the subject around him would probably cause him to turn all shades of purple. Especially if it was someone he actually knew. So, not shocked that it could happen, but depending on how well he thought he knew the girl, the specific situation could shock him.

Of course, again--this depends on what sort of scenario he already exists in. I have lived in some places where it wouldn't be the first time they'd seen something like that. But where I live now--it would be a lot more of an event among 8th graders than in some other places.
#12 - October 13, 2011, 09:02 AM

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This is just a FWIW.

I suspect the question about Hitchcock refers to movies like Psycho and The Birds. I think time has quite nullified the terror that was once there, though not necessarily the enjoyment. Older films like North-by-Northwest are suspenseful, not frightening, and made during the Hayes Commission era, so there should be no problem there even for very young children.

I would not encourage an 8th grader to watch Frenzy, however, which most casual fans tend to forget about. It contains a very disturbing sexual assault / murder scene. It's not graphic per se. But it'll still make you squirm, and if you're sitting next to your kid (especially a girl) you'll have an urge to turn off the TV. Seriously.
#13 - October 13, 2011, 09:11 AM

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I agree with the ones who said no, yes, yes,

Though it really depends on the child's upbringing. Any child, unless they have been totallly sheltered, would not be totally shocked at a senior's pregnancy.

For the television and movies, it depends. My daughter, 13, knows plenty of kids who watch just about everything from horror to violent tv shows. But there are still plenty of middle schoolers who don't. So it would need to fit the family profile and your character.

Good luck!
#14 - October 13, 2011, 09:22 AM

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I definitely watched Alfred Hitchcock movies in 8th grade. I think Psycho might have been a movie at a slumber party I attended in 7th or 8th grade.

I think parents today are a funny mix -- some are WAY protective of their children's viewing habits, others seem super lax. In my son's class (he's a first grader) there are kids who watch no TV at all, and there are kids who have seen all the Star Wars movies. So I think it depends on how you've set up your character's particular family and community situation.
#15 - October 13, 2011, 09:25 AM
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I was just thinking about what others have said about movies and TV shows, and none of what you've listed would even raise an eyebrow - in fact, I don't think I could even get them to watch Hitchcock. I remember showing them Jaws for the first time - the scariest movie I ever saw in my young life. We all sat down with popcorn and anticipation and their first reaction was 'Come on Mom, that shark is so FAKE!" They weren't impressed at all - effects have come so far in the past couple of decades that they couldn't see beyond the mechanical shark. I don't think they even finished watching it. My oldest did just catch The Sixth Sense on TV and that freaked him out a little bit, which gave me a sense of gratification (not that I watched it with him - too scary for me).
#16 - October 13, 2011, 12:38 PM
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Depends on the family. Some would definitely be allowed to watch Alfred Hitchcock and/or Law and Order. They might be shocked about a pregnancy, but might not show it. They definitely would want to talk about it with someone (who that person is, depends, it may be a friend or the family).

Susan
#17 - October 13, 2011, 02:57 PM

Just adding that the pregnancy thing really depends on the particular 8th grader and senior. As an 8th grader myself I would not have been shocked by teen pregnancy. But I went to church with a lot of the seniors at my high school and if one that I knew well and was active in youth group and stuff got pregnant - I'd have certainly been surprised - maybe shocked is the wrong word.
#18 - October 13, 2011, 03:05 PM
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My dh teaches 8th grade going on 10 years now, and he's standing right here so I just asked him your questions.

Pregnancy--some would be shocked.

The other two, sure they'd watch Law and Order. Sure they'd watch Hitchcock movies.

There you go, straight freom the horses' mouth!
#19 - October 13, 2011, 04:42 PM

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Great responses everyone! Thank you so much! Now... I've been informed I have to make it sixth or seventh grade! Yikes! I'm so freaking out here! I need a twelve year old mentor!
#20 - October 13, 2011, 06:48 PM
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Well, as to your first questions, when I was in sixth grade there was a 7th grader who was pregnant. I was VERY squicked out by this. (Um, as an adult, knowing a lot more of what probably went into that equation, I'm even MORE squicked out by it.) When I was maybe in 7th grade, I knew a 15YO who got pregnant. I was surprised by this turn of events (especially as everyone around me who knew what was going on avoided the subject of her and wouldn't answer why she'd disappeared). I think what shocked me more, though, was the harsh response of her family to the event.

Good luck trimming your story down--it sounds like quite an age jump.
#21 - October 13, 2011, 08:10 PM

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1. Would a mature 8th grader been shocked that a senior got pregnant?\
Well, depends. She could be mature and cynical. So she may not be surprised at all.

2. Would kids in 8th grade be allowed to watch Law & Order?

I think lots of parents let their kids watch shows like that. I know I watched something like that at that age.

3. Would same mature 8th grader be allowed to watch Alfred Hitchcock movies?

I think I knew quite a few who watched that stuff in 8th grade.
#22 - October 14, 2011, 12:13 AM

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...

Good luck trimming your story down--it sounds like quite an age jump.

Thanks, Rose! It is going to be a challenge! I'm up for a challenge! :yup
#23 - October 14, 2011, 03:45 AM
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No, yes, yes to these from me too. My kids were reasonably sheltered (no t.v.), but I was a lot more shocked than they were when a 13-year-old neighbor got pregnant. As for Hitchcock  movies, I agree with others that those are tame by today's standards, and the MG kids I tutor watch EVERYTHING on t.v.
#24 - October 14, 2011, 04:59 AM

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That is a big jump. I have a sixth grader too and the answers to the questions are pretty much the same, although with the pregnancy issue he was more curious than my 14yo, but that might just be his personality. Sixth graders can vary A LOT in maturity levels, so most any character traits yours have will ring true for some of them.
#25 - October 14, 2011, 10:32 AM
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That is a big jump. I have a sixth grader too and the answers to the questions are pretty much the same, although with the pregnancy issue he was more curious than my 14yo, but that might just be his personality. Sixth graders can vary A LOT in maturity levels, so most any character traits yours have will ring true for some of them.

CynJay - I'm so glad to hear this! I think my job just got a little easier! :typing
#26 - October 14, 2011, 02:19 PM
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