I have a 9-year-old son who is my right hand man and my wing man. His mom died 4 years ago and I have total control over how he's raised. I take the time to teach him lessons all the time. It's important because he has ADHD.
I've always been of the opinion about curse words that they are both used to stir up strong emotions (which could be done with better words) and that most of the sting comes from the fact that people get in trouble when they're children for cursing.
I remember back in the day when some kid in the neighborhood would curse and another kid would say, "Aw, I'm tellin'!" Next thing you knew they were racing to the nearest grownup to try to get in the first word. I've seen kids get soap in the mouth, hotsauce, smacked in the mouth, spanked, yelled at, pretty much the whole spectrum. I also remember the feeling of utter dread when someone said they were going to tell on me. I think those emotions carry on today in a lot of people.
Really, it's only words. Lately, I've been telling my son to watch his language around me because he's been using it as a way to make everything he says around me funnier and I'm just not into Def Comedy Jam like that. It's funny sometimes. What I've taught him is that there are people he can't speak like that around. He knows who those people are.
I don't freak out when I hear those words. They mean nothing to me anymore. But I think a lot of authority figures respond so rashly as a knee jerk reaction because the emotions they feel are the same "Oh shit, somebody's gonna' get it!" emotions from back in the day.
But all this is just an extension of a greater philosophy I have in raising my son. I don't try to protect him from every thing his ears and eyes might sense. Instead, I try to teach him how to respond well to it. There are limits though. I still protect him from scary movies and I tried to protect him for as long as I could from the knowledge that his mother shook him when he was a baby.
How is a child supposed to function in a world that is often cruel and unfair when all they know about the world is Nickelodeon and Disney? It's important that they have an acurate internal representation of the world so they don't spend the first decade of their adult life making stupid mistakes.