“No Grinding” Rule Causes Stir At Florence, MT Homecoming Dance [OPINION]
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of spinning records for some great students at the Florence Carlton High School. Yet, no more than 5 minutes into my set the gymnasium lights came on at the pitch dark "Black Light Homecoming Dance" and an announcement was made by the schools principal:
"Alright kids, you know the drill. We spoke about this before, there will be NO grinding of any kind at tonight's function. Thank you, and enjoy your evening."
The well-respected principal was very polite but stern, yet more than half of the students reacted swiftly by leaving the dance floor, never to return for the rest of the night.
After speaking at length with both the principal and friendly chaperones (some of which were parents of the students) I had come to learn that this had been a rule that was repeated often and well in advance, even weeks before leading up to the homecoming festivities. Parents were sent home with information in hopes that they could begin some discussions about the proper dance etiquette at social functions. In fact, Florence Carlton School recently invited some professional dancers to teach exciting modern dance moves to prove that these parties can still be memorable without the need to simulate sex on the dance floor. It's not like the school wasn't trying to inject some fun into this event.
And yet, many of the older students bailed...
But where? That was my biggest concern. As far as their parents knew, the kids were safely watched after at a high school function. But now they are off at either a party in the woods, an unsupervised house party, or worse still, in the back seat of a car no longer just simulating the sex moves. Lord knows they didn't go home.
So where did we go wrong?
The fact is, grinding can lead to a lawsuit. If a parent can whole-hardheartedly prove that her child was groped or fondled by another at a school dance and has witnesses to prove it, it may fall back on the faculty. No wonder the schools around the area are cracking down! Districts have a hard enough time affording books and supplies these days, let alone court cases. So I respect that these school representatives are just doing what they can to protect the students and themselves as best as possible.
Here's where I think we might be able to curb such a revolt next time. It seems that when parents and teachers over-emphasize something it almost becomes too much for children. I know that when I tell my 2 year old daughter not to touch that kitchen knife she will take her hand off of it (note: we keep the knifes in our house on a very high shelf, just an example). However, If I were to run into the kitchen, all seven foot tall of me, and scream at the top of my lungs "DON'T TOUCH THAT!!" then throw her in front of a TV and repeated a horror movie of people getting cut up then her reaction might be to never go into the kitchen, and perhaps never eat a meal ever again. Granted, my intentions were good, after all I'm just trying to keep her safe, but perhaps my over-the-top lecture was just more than she could handle? And what's worse is the local media is all over this story, area newspapers and TV stations are covering it ad nauseam. It's all becoming a bit much. And here I am talking about it too, geez..
Speaking of being a parent..
This situation can easily be minimized if Dad or Mom took just sixty seconds at home to enforce some rules in a compassionate demeanor. Really, parents, be honest: Did you read the material that was sent home, or did you toss it aside with the junk mail? Have you had THE talk yet? Trust me when I say the kids will be much more receptive if you had a one-on-one talk instead of being put on blast in front of their peers. I hate to say it, this falls on you way more than just the duties of the school authority figures.
Again, I see the schools point of view and I respect what they are trying to do. And for what it's worth, the rest of the students in Florence seemed to have a great time during the remainder of the dance. They danced, some even slow danced together, which is perfectly fine! It's still great to see that schools are offering social functions like this. It gives teenagers, especially in our smaller surrounding communities with fewer options something special to attend. Perhaps it's time we re-evaluate our approach and try something that will make them feel less intimidated and more empowered.
Do you have any suggestions? Over to you..