Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dirty Dancing Among Middle School Students

From the Chicago Tribune:
Dirty dancing by 6th, 7th and 8th graders prompts Frankfort Park District to cancel its ‘08 dances

Somewhere between the groping, the grinding, the insults and the foul language, Megan Zobel had seen enough. How could middle school students -- 6th, 7th and 8th graders -- act this way at a teen dance?

Zobel, an event coordinator for the Frankfort Park District, wasn’t being naive. She was once a teenager. She knew the kind of drama that’s typical of hormone-charged dances at this age.

But after a district-sponsored dance in January unraveled into too much touching and feeling among dancegoers -- as well as too much contact, too much abuse hurled at adult supervisors and, finally, a staged sit-in by about 50 teens -- officials knew something had to be done.

They’ve now canceled the remaining eight dances on the district’s 2008 calendar, a decision that has sparked considerable debate among parents, students and educators in southwest suburban Frankfort. The decision has also brought to life age-old generational struggles regarding boundaries and breaking them.

“When parents ask why we’ve done this, I tell them I couldn’t even have shown them what these kids were doing on videotape -- it’s almost illegal,” said Zobel, 34. “We’re talking about groups of 20 kids or so rubbing up against each other.”

The Frankfort Square Park District, which spans parts of Frankfort, Mokena, Tinley Park and unincorporated Will County, also discontinued its 7th- and 8th-grade dances after organizers saw kids’ behavior spiraling downward, said district Executive Director Jim Randall.

“Each dance was a different story,” Randall said. “But often you saw the same types of problems come up with vulgar dancing” and kids showing too much skin.

Along with inappropriate dancing and dress, Zobel said some dancegoers were verbally abusive to park staff who tried to defuse the volatile dancing.
Probably most liberals would agree that this sort of thing among middle school students is a bad thing.

But the problem is: how do you keep the sexual norms of the general society from filtering down to kids whom everybody agrees lack the maturity to handle sexual decisions?

The simple answer: you don’t and you can’t.

With a sex saturated media, how does one expect pubescent kids to be less raunchy than what they can see on TV?

How many of these girls are allowed to watch “Sex in the City?”

How many have older sisters, say 16 or 17 years old, who are on birth control and having sex with a boyfriend or the most recent of a string of boyfriends?

How many have a college age sister who is brazenly shacking up with a boyfriend, and even having a kid ot of wedlock?

How many of the boys assume that, in a year or two (or even now) they will have a girlfriend who will have sex with them? And if one girlfriend won’t, will drop her for another.

This is the problem with the liberal yuppies who think their contempt for traditional sexual norms has no consequences. After all, they say, “it’s my life.”

But it isn’t just their life. It establishes the norms that young teens and preteens accept.

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Blogger Tom said...

I taught at Brown Deer Middle School for a brief period of time before coming to law school, and I chaperoned two dances. If what this school saw was anything like what I saw, I applaud them for taking that step. Watching 12 and 13 year-olds simulating sex is not a pleasant way to spend an evening. I would love to see more schools follow this lead - if you can't behave appropriately in this situation, we aren't going to give you an excuse to do it.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous ambie g. said...

ever think jr. high students are getting conflicting messages that might outwardly turn into their own experimentation and curiosity. Girls are constantly placed in a double mind--be sexy and attractive for the boys but if you put out, you're easy and a slut. You're right, the message these youngins get (from Mainstream media, not "liberal yuppies" though) is one that is sex-saturated. But sex isn't the bad thing here--i mean, you crazy conservs might think it is, but the ideas perpetuated that come out of this sex-saturated media is what's harmful--ideas that girls need to put out in order for guys to like them, that guys need to "bang" every girl in sight in order to gain the coveted points for masculinity--those kind of things. And then when you couple that with abstinence only education--well, what do you think these poor little jr. high minds will do?? We are tormenting our youth with such conflicting messages. We need comprehensive sex ed, first off, coupled with media literacy, and parent's taking active roles in discussing and/or censoring the harmful stuff put forth by popular culture.

10:48 AM  

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