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To Speak, Or Not to Speak… That is the Question

Dealing with Profanity

“Do you think ‘crap’ is a bad word?”

“Makes me uncomfortable when you say it.”

“Not me.”

“I think before you started cussing, it did make you uncomfortable. But since you’ve started, you’ve become numb to your conscience.”

“Well, everyone says it.”

This is a hypothetical conversation about the vulgar words that follow either a dropped pencil, a terrible grade on that math test, or insults thrown back and forth in the hallways. “Everyone says it” is the normal excuse. Well, I believe there are many reasons why you should refuse to go with the flow, one of the reasons being that YOU are better than this. Keep reading on!

“So you say it cause it sounds cool?”

“No way! ‘Crap’ doesn’t sound cool. But everyone says it.”

“Wrong. Not everyone says it. I don’t say it.”

“OK, fine, almost everyone says it.”

“So if almost everyone says it, it’s OK? You see, when people cuss around me, my respect level for them drops. I think that everyone would much rather spend their time around someone who doesn’t cuss.”

“But when I hear people cuss, it’s like, no bigie. I mean, people do it all the time.”

“What if a teacher cusses?”

“Teachers are different. We’re kids. Everyone – almost everyone cusses.”

“But why? I think the English language stretches beyond words like ‘crap’ and ‘damn’. There are so many more words you can use instead to express your emotion. Plus, it makes you sound smarter.”

“Well, everyone says it.”

“Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, words like ‘shoot’ or ‘dang’ slip out of my mouth. And in today’s society, it’s ok to say those words. But I know that they’re just substitutes for the ‘bad’ bad words. And when my friends say, ‘fudge’ real loud, I flinch anyways because we all know what they really mean.”

So ‘crap’ isn’t acceptable?”

“It’s hard to know where to draw the line. But I’m pretty sure that deep down inside, you’ll know what’s right and wrong. The question is, are you going to listen to your conscience? That’s up to you to decide.”



When YOU Are Career Day!

Kid Reporter encourages students to follow their passion

Find out what the life of an FBI agent is all about! Kid Reporter Cassandra Hsiao talks with George Olivo in this article.

Career Day at a school in Los Angeles recently included some exciting speakers, including an FBI agent. But there was also….

“Let’s welcome the Scholastic Kid Reporter, Cassandra Hsiao!” said the announcer at Palos Verdes Intermediate School in Los Angeles, California, introducing me to 300+ 6th graders. Applause still resounded in my ears even after the clapping died down.

With shaking hands, I felt a flutter of nerves in my stomach. I was tongue-tied at first, with my teeth set on edge. I took a deep breath, standing behind the podium facing the audience. My three-minute speech was to encourage students to follow their path of passion and how my own passion in writing led me to be a Scholastic Kid Reporter.

I told them writing gives me confidence and makes me feel like a complete version of myself. Using a lesson from the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, I explained that Flint Lockwood knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a great inventor and how he continued to follow his passion.

I expressed that the students could follow their passions too. I ended with the quote, “Dream until your dream comes true.” I was warmly embraced by the enthusiastic applause of the students.

Right after that, George Olivo, who has been working in the FBI Los Angeles division for the last 13 years, stepped up to the podium. His talk was about core values, strong character, and peer pressure. He demonstrated that peer pressure can be powerful, and if you make a wrong turn at the crossroads, it could mess up your whole life.

“’Kids are the future,’” Olivo told me in an interview after the presentations. “I have confidence in the young people today, but they still need guidance. I want to show them what is possible, and that the sky’s the limit.”

I think he did just that in his speech. I only hope the students got the same inspiration from me.

@Scholastic,INC First Published at

I’m [insert name], FBI

Do you have what it takes to be a Fed?

Scholastic News Kid Reporter Cassandra Hsiao with FBI agent George Olivo at Palos Verdes Intermediate School in Los Angeles, California. (Photo courtesy Cassandra Hsiao)

Kid Reporter Cassandra Hsiao writes about her own experience as a speaker on career day at a school in Los Angeles.

The life of an FBI agent may not be exactly what you expect—especially if your idea of an agent is based on scenes from movies.

“To be an FBI agent you have to be a U.S. citizen of at least 23 years of age, have a 4-year college degree, and pass a polygraph test,” said George Olivo, who has been working in the FBI Los Angeles division for the last 13 years. “But the most important thing is you must have strong character and core values.”

Olivo organizes motivation talks to elementary and middle school students. Recently, he spoke to 300 6th graders at the Palos Verdes Intermediate School in Los Angeles, California. He focused much of his talk on peer pressure.

“Many people think that peer pressure is like a river, and you are on a raft,” he said. “They think that if the flow is going the wrong way, you can simply jump off the raft and onto the banks of the river.”

To demonstrate his idea of what peer pressure is like, Olivo showed a clip from the Disney movie Lion King. In the clip, Simba is running for his life as he is chased by a stampede of wildebeests. The branch he hangs onto is his lifesaver. As it breaks, his father Mufasa grabs him and throws him to safety. Olivo explained that the only way to escape peer pressure is to hold on to good character like Simba hung on to the branch.

Olivo also talked about how to become an agent.

“The first step in becoming an FBI agent is the step you’re taking right now,” Olivo told the students. “Before you can be trusted with large things, you must first prove yourself in smaller things.”

Students applauded enthusiastically at the end of the presentation.

“I learned that peer pressure can pull you down and it is hard to resist,” Julianna B., 11, told the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps.

“I thought it was interesting how you don’t look at the outside of a person but inside of them,” said Erin K., 12. “If you go on the wrong turn, it could mess up your life.”

“I learned that peer pressure can influence your decisions,” said Blake P.,11.

Being part of the FBI is a joy for Olivo.

“I think just being able to represent the United States in this capacity is an honor for me,” Olivo said. “Being trusted by our nation to defend against terrorist attacks and against people who want to do this country harm is a privilege.”

@Scholastic,INC First Published at

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