Saving Our Children from the First Amendment

307 pages

March, 2006

ISBN: 9780814740354



Also available in



Part of the Critical America series


Kevin W. Saunders is Charles Clarke Chair in Constitutional Law at Michigan State University College of Law. He is the author of Violence as Obscenity: Limiting the Media's First Amendment Protection and Saving Our Children from the First Amendment (NYU Press, 2003).

All books by Kevin W. Saunders

The First Amendment is vital to our political system, our cultural institutions, and our routine social interactions with others. In this provocative book, Kevin Saunders asserts that freedom of expression can be very harmful to our children, making it more likely that they will be the perpetrators or victims of violence, will grow up as racists, or will use alcohol or tobacco.

Saving Our Children from the First Amendment examines both the value and cost of free expression in America, demonstrating how an unregulated flow of information can be detrimental to youth. While the great value of the First Amendment is found in its protection of our most important political freedoms, this is far more significant for adults, who can fully grasp and benefit from the freedom of expression, than for children. Constitutional prohibitions on distributing sexual materials to children, Saunders proposes, should be expanded to include violent, vulgar, or profane materials, as well as music that contains hate speech.

Saunders offers an insightful meditation on the problem of protecting our children from the negative effects of freedom of expression without curtailing First Amendment rights for adults.


  • “Brave and appealing. Saunders deserves attention for challenging free-expression orthodoxy.”

    American Journalism Review

  • “This is an unusually thoughtful and sophisticated book about what freedom of speech means in the real world. Offers a clear, sensible, and rule-governed system of free speech for the younger generation.”

    —John Garvey, Boston College Law School