This subject has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. The subject recently came up in the Utah Children's Writer's message board, and there are a lot of people who say profanity is needed to make a scene believable or credible.
I for one, do not believe using profanity in ANY book is necessary, adult or young adult. I've seen many books depicting bad characters who use profanity, but the author chooses not to use the actual words. I think it's sufficient to indicate that a character swears, or swore, without using those profane words.
As an example. I'm currently reading "The Great and Terrible" series by Chris Stewart. I recommend reading this series and other "best-selling" books by Mr. Stewart as great examples of what I'm talking about. Mr. Stewart has some pretty awful characters depicted in his books, yes, characters who swear and use profanity, but he does not use the actual profane words, choosing rather to indicate that a character swore, and leave the bad word up to the imagination of the reader. It does work. I don't think anyone reading his books will think they are fake or phony. They're quite realistic.
Another example is Dean Hughes' books. He writes about WWII and other difficult subjects where profanity should be expected. But I can't recall a single profane word and his books are totally believable.
Certainly, it takes a bit more creativity on our part, but isn't that what we writers pride ourselves as being -- creative?
I think we can avoid using profane words and still be realistic. It just takes a slight bit more effort. In my mind, using the actual words in our writing cheapens our work and is the lazy way out, and what example are we showing our youth?
Causes Paul West Supports
Freedom and liberty