School Ready to Call
Child Welfare on Author

by Taylor Nix
April 2009


"Mom, my teacher had a copy of Ms. Julia's book, Strawberry Mansion. I told her you wrote a book and she wants to read it. Can I bring her a copy?" This was what, Junnita Jackson's 12 year-old son asked her after he saw one of his teachers with Julia Press-Simmon's book. The next day he returned with his mother's novel, If It Don't Hurt...It Ain't Love, and gave it to his teacher. Shortly after, Junnita received a call from her husband. She was told that her son had some material deemed inappropriate by the school. "For the life of me I couldn't figure out what it could be. He still turns his head from a flash of 'boobies' in a movie," says Junnita. As it turned out, the inappropriate material was the book she authored.

According to Junnita, the text of the novel had to be reviewed since the teacher had brought it to the attention of the school's principal. Upon opening the book the principal of the school was appalled and unable to read pass the first page and was so concerned by the material Junnita authored, and considered calling child welfare.

What was it inside of your book that you think might have caused the teacher and principal to react the way they did?
The first sentence of the first chapter is, "My fiancé’s face was buried deep between my legs." The rest of the chapter is pretty steamy. That was the reason they flipped out. All of the sudden, to hear them tell it, my child was living in an unfit home because his mother wasn’t just a reader but an author of this type of material. The sex scenes are pretty graphic and erotic and right up front and not hidden with the deeper chapters of the book. I guess she felt some kind of way about it.

What's your book about?
It’s basically about decisions and consequences within our relationships with ourselves, our friends and our lovers; with a few twist and unexpected turns.

Kat, Tamia, and Vatyra tear apart and mend the cracks of their tattered hearts. Kat is a sultry and steamy woman with the world at her finger tips and a mind-boggling sex addiction. Her motto is anytime, anywhere, and anybody. Nothing has ever come between Kat and a good time; but too much of a good time may cost Kat a trip down the aisle with Dante the love of her life. Meanwhile, as Tamia struggles on her own, to raise her 14-year-old son, Semaj, her sanity hangs on by a thread. Her recent brush with death may have just been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Coma stricken, her 6th sense has her seeing and feeling the presence of her deceased ex lover James. Will James let her stay with him or send her packing back to reality?

Vatyra lets her guard down enough to let Kevin back in her bed. Although her heart has been stomped into the ground and trampled more then once, she finds the strength to let him back in her heart. Just when she thinks life could be sweet, his ex-freak-of-the-week returns to destroy their chances at happiness.

So she had a copy of Strawberry Mansion by Julia Press Simmons?
According to my son it was the copy of Strawberry Mansion that prompted him to ask his teacher if he would like to read If It Don’t Hurt...It Ain’t Love.

Do you know if the teacher read the above mentioned book? Would say your book and Strawberry Mansion are similar in content? Could they be placed together in a bookstore or library?
She was reading the book when my son approached her. Both books are about lust and lies, repairing relationships in an urban community. I realize that statement covers a broad range of story lines, but the basis of what people deal with in their everyday relationships are similar. Yes, I believe they could be placed together.

What were you told when you contacted the school about this situation?
When I contacted the school I was put in touch with the principal, she had me on speaker phone (which she didn’t disclose until near the end of the conversation). She told me how she didn’t usually have any problems with my son but the material he bought in was inappropriate. She continued on how when boys his age usually bring in inappropriate material there is a warning issued for the first offense and then parents are called in for any future offenses; however since I was the creator of the offensive material maybe other action needed to be taken.

When I asked her what action she planned on taking because it wasn’t my son’s fault, the book was requested. She explained she hadn’t planned on disciplining my son, but contacting child welfare on me. I couldn’t help but to think ‘How, exactly, was that not punishing my son?’ She then disclosed the other individuals listening to our conversation in her office, another teacher and the school counselor; they had been discussing that action was appropriate. The principal repeatedly stated she was appalled by the inappropriate material. I told the principal I was on my way there to finish the conversation, she advised that wasn’t necessary and they decided to return the book and take no action. I made sure to let my son know he did nothing wrong and wasn’t in any trouble.

Visit Junnita Jackson's myspace page at: myspace.com/ifitdonthurt


Taylor Nix is a writer and photographer for the Urban Book Source. Questions, comments and concerns can be sent to: taylor@urbanbooksource.com


Comments page 1 of 2:
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Student Aid :
Posted 2934 days ago
Ms. Jackson doesn't have the full story. I was there when the teacher got caught reading the book in class instead of teaching (and she was well past the first page). She did not turn the book in it was confiscated from the teacher. And the teacher covered her butt by saying she took it from the student.
A whole lot of mess for nothing. I read the book and I didn't think it was porno material or anything close and apparently neither did the teacher before the book was taken. She is on a write up and half way out the door anyway. What was she supposed to say?
A Plus :
Posted 2934 days ago
This is sad either way you put.
Terrence :
Posted 2935 days ago
It shocks me that people chose to use race here when other races write romance & eroitca as well. I don't agree with a child carrying the material as well, as I wouldn't allow underage kids to pick mine up. I always say it's grown up stuff, so that's not important. Whether street lit, erotica, sci-fi, whatever, you can't knock a persons gift/imagination. If it bothers you, don't read it. I still can't understand how we continue to throw stones while living in glass houses.
Shawn James :
Posted 2935 days ago
A little common sense should have been used here. First, a 12-year old shouldn't have been the messenger for an R-rated (17and up) book . If the teacher wanted a copy of the parents' book, she should have gone directly to the parent by phone or e-mail or given him her address to sent it US mail. It's inappropriate for a child to bring this kid of content to their teacher, or to have it at all.
Second, after reading a passage of this book posted here this material is borderline pornography. "My Fiance's face was buried deep between my legs- WTF? HOW IS THIS APROPRIATE MATERIAL FOR A 12 YEAR OLD CHILD TO BRING TO SCHOOL? If the same child's parents bought a copy of Penthouse Forum, Swank or Hustler and had said student hand it to his teacher to read, Child Welfare would be contacted along with the police. Regardless of content, it's not healthy for a 12-year old CHILD to be even near adult sexual content like this. ADULT CONTENT IS FOR ADULTS. IT HAS NO PLACE IN A JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL. Someone Had to intervene.
I even think the teacher who was reading this type of material out in the open has to examine her behavior with their students. It's unprofessional for a teacher to have this type of book on a junior high school campus. I'll state this again: ADULT CONTENT IS FOR ADULTS. IT HAS NO PLACE IN A JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL. These are 12-year olds who have very little understanding about sex, sexuality and their bodies; exposure to this type of material and its graphic sexual content without a proper sex education could confuse them and give them twisted unrealistic views about sex, love and relationships.
While the 12-year old probably wanted to help promote his mother's book (nothing wrong with that) This wasn't the way to go about things. There's a dozen ways to get this sale (e-mail, MySpace, blog, flyer, postal mail) that don't involve the child. A boundary was crossed here. When promoting a b book, business needs to stay business and personal needs to stay personal.
I Get Money :
Posted 2935 days ago
If the teacher was already reading a urban/gritty tale, then what was the problem? She asked for the book didn't she? I mean she said it was ok for the boy to give her the book. She then turns around and attempts to have child welfare involved. Do you people know the difference between Art and Life? I wish I could get the chance to confront one of these ignorant clowns face to face and out them in their place.
Me-nage :
Posted 2935 days ago
Really sad and amazing. Child Welfare for Literature???? What's next?
@Black People Wake Up, it's because of people like you, why this stuff happens you know. This is what I have to say to you: GO F*UK YOURSELF! You don't know what it means to be black b*itch. Obama B*itch.
Black People Wake Up :
Posted 2935 days ago
At the end of the day, we replaced the whips and chains with more whips (cars) and chains (jewelry)! We were born slaves and we'll continue to be slaves until the end of time. My only dream is to see us WAKE UP! And news like the above article doesn't help us. It just sets us back. Let's remember, we are already 400 years behind, we don't need to be set back anymore.
Black People Wake Up :
Posted 2935 days ago
You know I hate to say this, but as black people we have really lost our way. We wear our pants hanging off our asses, 'my nigga, my nigga' are the only words that come from our mouths when we speak, we can only make a living by shooting a basketball or talking ignorant over a microphone. Now, we have 'street lit.' Got damn, you can't let a black person find a way, because we always fuck it up!
So this author gives her own son some trash to bring to school and then gets surprised when they call up on her?
Joe The Plumber :
Posted 2935 days ago
Do you see how the first chapter opens? Do you realize how the story starts? Its no wonder why they wanted to call child welfare. They we're concerned with the 12-year-old boy. This street lit $hit has to come to an end. Where is it helping our people?
Jarold Imes :
Posted 2935 days ago
Honestly Ms. Jackson, you are not the cause of this situation but I believe there is a lesson to be learned.
In this instance, the teacher first and foremost bears most of the fault and responsibility because he or she knew better than to bring and leave an "adult book" (I'm not judging the book, just making a statement) in the pressence where his or her students could see it. The teacher was also wrong in accepting your son's invitation to bring your book to school. He or she should have declined the invitation and had he or she been on their job at that moment in time, this situation would not have happened. If the teacher was interested in the book, she should have made arrangements to contact you about the book without your son knowing and in which case you could have either met with her to make the purchase OR she could have asked her library to order the book. In the teacher's case, Butterfly's suggestions (which is the only I can see at this time) would have worked as well.
Your son is innocent and to a degree does not know better about appropriate judgment concerning your book. Your fault in this is that you did not decline the request from the teacher via your son. I would have told my son that the teacher would be more than welcomed to call me or email me to discuss the book.
But the principal at the school is at fault as well. First of all, you should have had prior knowledge that other "teachers and administrators" were listening in on your conversation. You had a reasonable right to expect that the conversation was just between you and the principal. There should not have been others involved in the conversation unless you and the principal have had prior altercations. However if the principal felt that they needed another person involved, then he or she should have asked you to come to the school, introduced you to the person who needed to be present and then a discussion could begin. The principal is also at fault in making a threat to call child welfare services. Most professionals (which the principal should be) know not to make a threat in separating a family unless they have the means and the ability to do so. And if that action is taken, they will need to be able to defend that decision in a court of law.
I wish you the best in your situation as well and continued success in your literary career. Use this experience to make wiser decisions about how to handle future transactions when it comes to adults who interact with your child and even your co-workers at your or your husband's "day jobs".
urban fiction journalist :
Posted 2935 days ago
That teacher and prinicipal is on some BS. Is this a private school?
Butterfly :
Posted 2935 days ago
As a teacher, I do not think I would've contacted the principal..I teach High School so I know kids are reading (or rather exposed to)erotica and urban fiction novels. In this situation, I would have talked to the parent directly about the book. I do not think other steps should've been implemented. We do have to realize that our kids are being exposed to these topics...I would have 'swapped' books with this student--I would swapped the Native Son or something like that.
I pray things worked out. God bless
 



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