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Statistics about Censorship: How real is the problem?

Unfortunately, it's a very real problem. But it's almost impossible to understand and empathize with people who have experienced censorship without having an idea of who they are and how they feel. That's why we have gathered a few statistics off of the internet and other sources for you to see, and make your own judgements about.

Unfortunately, the stats we have so far are mainly North American and European. We aim to, in the near future, look for figures from the other parts of the world, which are just as important. But, for now, the figures you see below are mainly Canadian and American, so you are getting a Western view of the world (like on CNN!).

--On December 6th, 1995, more than 25 civil liberties groups, regional Internet service providers, and commercial producers of entertainment, information, and journalism joined an ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] letter, delivered that day, to the United States Congress that urged the conferees to reject all proposals to impose new government censorship regulations on cyberspace and online communications. The Congress did not reject the online censorship bill.

--Banned Books Week (BBW) was first held in September 1982 across North America and was sponsored by the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and the American Library Association (ALA).

--The most frequently challenged books are usually extremely popular or even classics that enjoy a wide readership. Exactly a third of the titles on the 1998 Modern Library list of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century, including 6 of the top 10, have been removed or threatened with removal from bookstores, libraries and schools at some point.

--Most challenging of books comes from suburban schools. Public Schools, especially Secondary, are the prime target of much curriculum-shifting. Private schools, boarding schools and alternative schools are the least likely to challenge books. Religious schools and smaller schools are the most likely.

Between 1990 and 1999, the Office of Intellectual Freedom of the ALA tracked 5,718 official challenges to materials in schools, school libraries, and public libraries, in America alone. This figure only includes cases brought before courts and school boards. As many as seven times this is estimated to be the 'unofficial' figure.

--The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling were the most frequently challenged books of 1999. Others on the list were Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.

--More than three-fourths of challenges to material occurred in schools, usually involving library material.

Material taken from:, and

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