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Parents, teachers shocked at 'R-rated' Valentine's cards for kids

 

Carly Weeks

Globe and Mail
January 31, 2008

 


Who said only adults could be cynical about Valentine's Day?

This year, grade schoolers had the opportunity to tell their classmates, "We'll be the kind of friends who throw up a little every time we see each other," with the help of a series of Valentine's cards sold in schools across the country by Scholastic Canada.

But the company announced yesterday it has stopped selling the cards in its flyer in the wake of concerns from parents and schools.

The children's book company had been selling It's Happy Bunny: I Heart Me Valentines, a set of 32 cards featuring dark humour and jokes that mock love, in its flyer, which is distributed to elementary and middle schools. Other messages included, "When you think back on what we had, I hope that you'll be: kind; happy; (or) floating face down in a river."

While Scholastic Canada has pulled the Happy Bunny cards from its flyers, e-cards can still be accessed on the Happy Bunny website.

Some parents were not amused. Tina Dale, who lives in St. John's, said she was shocked when she read the Valentine's cards her eight-year-old daughter brought home from school.

"They're all terrible," she said in an interview from her home yesterday.

"I was really concerned and brought them in to the principal."

Ms. Dale said she ordered the cards from a flyer that her daughter, Emily, brought home from school and had no idea they would contain such dark humour.

"I just assumed that anything she could order in that book order was all right. I didn't know I had to look for PG- or R-rated."

After receiving complaints from Ms. Dale and others, Scholastic decided to stop selling the cards.

"We take the concerns of our parent, child and teacher customers seriously and, therefore, we have removed this item from this offer, effective immediately," the company said in a statement.

But the company also said the flyer is meant to be distributed to children in Grades 4 to 8 and that the Happy Bunny cards were "clearly identified" as appropriate for pupils in Grade 7 and up.

The Happy Bunny cards in the Scholastic flyer feature a smiling cartoon bunny, including one that says "2 cute 2 talk 2 u." Another card has the bunny's face in a skull-and-crossbones illustration.

Ms. Dale said when she looked at the flyer, the cards looked playful and innocent and she didn't see any indication they were meant for older children.

"It was in really, really fine print," she said, adding, "in my opinion, those cards are not suitable for Grade 7 either."
 

Lakehead Public Schools in Thunder Bay also contacted Scholastic about the cards, after receiving a complaint from a parent via local media.
 

"I would describe them as being inappropriate for school-aged children," said Bruce Nugent, communications officer with the school board.

He said he has received a few other complaints from parents since then, but is satisfied to know the company has stopped selling the product.

Children can still easily access Happy Bunny online, just one popular line of greetings that use ironic or sinister humour to mock the recipient. Scholastic Canada said it will offer refunds to any customer that is unhappy and will take steps to improve the vetting process, saying it will redouble efforts to "be very mindful of these concerns when making future selections."



 

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