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Youth Culture Window

In the Dark
A Sobering Peek into a Public High School Dance
An article from Jonathan McKee at TheSource4YM.com
10/11/2010


The 16-year-old girl stepped out of the limo, careful to keep her dress from riding up any higher than it already rested on her upper thighs. Clasping her date’s hand, she stepped into the decorated school gym—an ocean theme.

The music pulsated so loudly that even her heartbeat soon surrendered to the rhythm, pumping in sync with the deafening subs. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. An instant later she found two of her friends in the crowd dancing with their boyfriends. The girls ran to greet each other.

Hugs. Smiles. Then a new song began.

Her friends grabbed the hands of their boyfriends, but didn’t turn to face them—instead they heard the lyrics insist “back it up, back it up,” and that’s just what her friends did. Their boyfriends smiled as they thrust against the girls from behind. Aside from the clothes, it was clear what was going on.

Following the lead of her friends, she did the same. Her date wrapped his arms around her front and she backed up, pushing herself against him, moving in a motion that would have made her blush in any other context, but the darkness and the safety of this crowd covered any embarrassment. Tonight this dark room was no place for second thoughts.

This is what he wants, she thought to herself. He’ll like me if I do this. He’ll notice me when I wear this. After all, if I don’t do this for him, there are a hundred other girls who are willing to.

Blame it on the music or the company she keeps or a dad who didn’t give his little daughter enough hugs. Regardless of the cause, another young girl has given up her innocence in exchange for a lie. It’s the norm to give your date a lap dance.

Sexualized
I’ve read dozens of articles and studies about the "sexualization" of today’s young girls. I’ve written about it and cited it in the media. But Saturday night I was surrounded by it. Literally hundreds of girls played the part our culture has written for them: Be a sex object.

I’ve always thought I had a pretty good finger on the pulse of youth culture. I know what goes on at school dances. After all the articles I've read on the subject, as well as the ones we've written on our own site, not to mention the plethora of MTV Video Music Award shows I’ve reviewed... I really didn’t think I could be shocked. But last night I was flabbergasted. It was sobering to see the effect of sexualization first hand— young girls with dresses so short that their underwear often peaked out from underneath, and literally hundreds of girls “backing up” into guys and rubbing up against them throughout the evening.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

A week ago a student from my kids’ high school called and asked if my wife Lori and I would chaperone the homecoming dance. “Sure,” I replied, intrigued with the opportunity to catch a glimpse inside a public school dance. Even though I volunteer with the junior high ministry at my church and frequently speak at camps and youth events, how often do I get to go on a public high school campus other than for my kids’ sports events? Probably only a few times a year.

I love opportunities like this—when all the research I’ve done actually takes a back seat in favor of a first-hand view from the front lines. It’s one thing to read the studies about what kids are listening to…it’s quite another to see them dancing to those songs.

In an interesting turn of events, the weekend before Lori and I chaperoned this dance, my daughter was invited to another public high school dance with some friends from our church. This group of friends was full of solid, responsible kids, so we said, “yes.”

Last week many of you read my blog about that “rite of passage” my daughter went through. The “warnings” printed on the dance ticket revealed volumes as to what goes on at these dances. Here are just a few or those warnings:

Students:
  • Are expected to face their partner at all times (no back to front motion)

  • Must maintain a 4 – 6 inch space from their partner

  • May not engage in ‘leg wrapping’

  • With the exception of feet, may not place body parts on floor

After the dance I asked my daughter and her friends what they experienced. All of them were surprised how many kids were “getting low” and “grinding.” (It’s funny... I’m trying to choose my terms wisely. How exactly do you say, “Sex with your clothes on”? Okay, I just said it.)

Being curious, I asked three of them— individually—what percentage of teenagers they saw dancing like that. Was this just a few friends, or a majority? Separately they each responded “over 50 percent.” One of my daughter’s friends said that a classmate even came up behind her and started “grinding” against her. She turned around and backed away, not sure what the protocol was for rejecting a boy trying to hump you from the rear.

My wife and I tried to prepare ourselves mentally for what we would see firsthand.

It didn’t work.

The Dance
Saturday night finally arrived. My own kids each left with different plans with church friends while Lori and I got dressed for homecoming.

When we arrived at the school, we learned we’d be the only parents patrolling the dance floor. It would be Lori, me, and three teachers. The vice principal instructed us that if we saw kids dancing too risqué, just shine a flashlight on them, and they’ll usually quit. If they don’t, then we should take their wristbands (as an official warning). If you warn a kid a second time (a kid with no wristband), we were to kick them out of the dance.

After receiving the instructions, Lori and I were confused about exactly what behaviors we weren’t supposed to allow. This school wasn’t as specific with instructions as the homecoming dance my daughter visited. How close was too close? Were we supposed to allow that “front to back” thing? I wondered if the “over 50 percent” calculation would play out tonight at this school.

Thirty minutes later we had our answers. The majority of today’s kids don’t even face each other at a dance. The girl simply turns around and backs into the guy, the guy puts his hands on the girl, and the grinding begins. Sometimes two girls will face each other, almost pressing against one another, then a guy will appear on each side from behind, sandwiching the girls in the middle.

There was no flashlight that would stop what was going on in that gymnasium. The only thing that would have stopped the “grinding” at that dance was turning off the music and turning on the lights.

And that was really the key: Turn off the music.

Mixed Messages
I don’t want to come off as shallow, so please hear me out on this: The music is much of the problem. The administration opened the door for this kind of activity when they allowed music with that kind of content. The exact thing the administration claimed to object to was being pumped through the speakers and projected on the wall (the DJ had the videos of the songs being projected for all to see).

Here’s how it worked. The school tells the DJ, “Don’t play any explicit music.” I went back and watched the DJ’s computer screen throughout the night. Almost every song he played had parentheses next to the song title, “(Clean Version).” Think about this. That means that every song he played has an “other than clean” version. And it didn’t take more than 30 seconds to realize that the kids knew the “other” version of the song.

For example, the DJ put on the “clean version” of “Get Low” by Lil’ Jon & the Eastside Boyz. It starts like this:
    Get low, Get low…
    To the window, to the wall (to dat wall)
    To the sweat drop down and fall (fall)
    To all these females crawl (crawl)
    To all skit skit skit skit skit skit …
But the kids are all singing this:
    Get low, Get low…
    To the window, to the wall (to dat wall)
    To the sweat drop down my balls (my balls)
    To all these b*tches crawl (crawl)
    To all skeet skeet motherf***er (motherf***er!) all skeet skeet got dam (got
    dam)…
By the way, if you’re offended by those lyrics…good. You should be. And I’m posting them because most of our kids hear this music, or at least encounter other kids singing content like this. I know, because my junior high daughter came home from soccer practice asking me about this very song. The girls on her team were singing it when the coach wasn’t around. (What does that tell you about our world today- when girls would sing these lyrics?)

Now forget the dirty version of this song for a moment. Instead, allow me to introduce you to a snippet of “the clean version”—the version played at the dance last night.
    She getting crunk in the club I mine she workin’
    Then I like to see the female twerking taking the clothes off OOH she naked
    ATL. sorry don’t disrespect it
    Pa pop yo thang like this
    cause ying yang twin in this B I
    Lil Jon and the Eastside boyz wit me and we all like to see tig ole bitties
    Now bring yo’self over here girl and let me see you get low if you want this Thug
    Now take it to the floor (to the floor) and if yo wanta act you can keep yo self where you at
Before I go in and interpret, I have a quick question:

“How stupid are we?”

Seriously, how stupid are adults? Think about this for a minute. The school administration has a rule: No explicit versions of songs. So we cut out the F-word, b*tch, and p**sy. But we don’t care about content or meaning.

So the music industry (brilliant, really) has come up with “clean versions” of all these songs. And foul, demeaning songs like “Get Low”—songs that sexualize young girls—are deemed “okay” as long as they don’t have cuss words. Perhaps school administrators need to start reading some reports like this one from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Musical content consists of much more than merely language.

I won’t spend too much time with the meaning of this one song. But if you look at the lyrics, it’s about a girl who’s doing some sexy moves on the dance floor, getting naked, and moving her body (which in the clean version is “her thang”; in the original version it’s “p**sy”). Then they mention how much they like to see “tig ole bitties”—basically a slang version of “big ol’ t**ties”—and instruct her to “take it to the floor” (a dance move where you get real low).

Now let’s bring it back to the dance floor on Saturday night. Picture this song playing and teachers walking around with flashlights saying, “Stop getting low” while the song (titled, “Get Low”) is instructing them to “get low.” Then “the clean version” says this:
    Drop dat body ya shake it fast ya
    Pop dat ass to the left and the right ya
    Now back, back, back it up (repeat 4x)
    Now stop (O) den wiggle wit ya (repeat 4 x)
I probably don’t have to tell you what the girls did when the lyrics encouraged them to “back it up” and “den wiggle with ya.”

This is just one song. The whole night was filled with chaperones saying, “Don’t do that.” “Do what?” “Don’t do what the song and video being projected on the wall are telling you to do!”

One kid was kicked out for drinking that night. But they played songs like these:
    “Like a G6,” Far East Movement
    …Ladies love my style, at my table getting’ wild
    Get them bottles poppin’, we get that drip and that drop
    Now give me 2 more bottles cuz you know it don’t stop
    Hell yeaa
    Drink it up, drink-drink it up…

    “Tick Tock,” Kesha
    …Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
    Cause when I leave for the night, I ain’t coming back…
    …Pulling up to the parties
    Trying to get a little bit tipsy…
“But don’t drink, kids!”

How clueless are we? Or more accurately, “How naïve do we think our kids are?”

For those who are curious, the following is but a handful of some of the other “clean” versions that were played that night:

  • “I Got a Feeling”

  • “Dynamite”

  • “Salt Shaker”

  • “Teach Me How to Dougie”

  • “Carry Out”

  • “In Da Club”

  • “Check It Out”

  • “OMG”

I told Lori when I walked into the gym, “I’m not kicking anyone out tonight. I’m just here to observe.” Maybe that was irresponsible of me, but I had a hunch. I really wanted to see if these teachers were going to kick anyone out for “grinding” each other.

I didn’t see a single person kicked out.

I saw teachers take wristbands, I saw them ask boys to put their shirts back on, I saw them ask girls to pull the bottoms of their dresses down to cover up their underwear…but no kids were removed.

Let me be clear: I don’t blame the teachers. I believe they felt as though their hands were tied. They literally would’ve had to send home the majority of the crowd.

Who is going to take that initiative?

So the dance went on. The girls kept “backing it up” and the guys kept “grinding.”

When Lori and I came home from the dance, she walked into our bedroom and just paused for a moment. Setting her purse down, she turned to me. “I’ve never seen so many trampy girls in all my life!”

Can We Blame Them?
It’s an interesting time we live in. I can’t really blame many of these teenagers. No, I’m not trying to defend them in any way, but our culture has taught them that this kind of behavior is okay. Adults produce this music and shoot the videos. Parents allow their kids to watch it, listen to it, and they even pony up the cash so their kids can buy it.

“But please don’t do what the lyrics are telling you to do.”

This kind of dancing is the norm in every music video. Celebrities model it. We even give awards to the adults who pimp this content to our kids. A few months ago I was watching the Regis and Kelly Show, when Kelly Ripa threw up her arms and began dancing like that with rapper Ludacris.

Our young girls are only copying what they see practiced by adult “role models” in every video and on every channel.

Some of the world was shocked when Miley Cyrus was caught dancing like this with movie director Adam Shankman (which, if you’re curious about what this kind of dancing looks like, in that candid video, Miley dances exactly like every girl at the school dance I chaperoned). Then Miley’s father, Billy Ray, responds with, “It’s what people her age do.”

Sadly, he has his facts straight (even though his response is far from it).

A Parents Response
So how are parents supposed to react to this? Should we respond like Billy Ray—“It’s what people her age do”?

Here’s a few thoughts:

  1. Start with your own kid. What would your kids do at their school dance? What have they been taught and modeled? Do they listen to all this music and watch these videos? (which would answer the previous question about what’s been modeled for them)

    If you don’t know the answers to these questions, there’s only one way to find out. No, the answer isn’t, over-reacting and probing them for answers. The answer is, a relationship. How can we know what our kids are up to if we don’t even know them? This all starts with building relationships with them, having conversations, asking questions, and listening. The more we connect with our kids and listen to them, the more they’ll share. If you have a relationship with your kids, ask them their opinion about this kind of music, those videos, and that type of dancing. Do they think it’s wrong? Have they ever been taught otherwise? Which brings up another thought…


  2. Get into the Word. How can they know to “flee sexual immorality” unless someone has told them? How do they know what’s appropriate to download unless someone has had that conversation with them?

    Parents need to find time to read the Bible with their kids and talk about truth. (Our new website www.TheSource4Parents.com will provide some great Biblical discussion starters- launching very soon!) This world is full of enough lies. Home should be one place where they can count on hearing truth. Don’t underestimate the power of influence from the home.

    Youth workers should also be about teaching the truth of the word. Don’t let fun and games trump good teaching, mentoring, and discipleship. Use free resources like TheSource4YM.com and books like Connect to help you build truth into the lives of kids.


  3. Don’t be afraid to apply boundaries. As a parent, will I let my youngest daughter go to one of these dances in the future? Probably not. Yes, I already confessed that I let my daughter go a week prior with 5 other friends from our church. But you heard what they experienced.

    It’s up to you as a parent to decide. If your son or daughter has a strong faith and you’ve had multiple conversations about music, lyrics and the temptations that come along with dancing, then you might feel comfortable sending them with a group of other strong believers. That’s your call as a parent.

    But there is no way I’d send them alone! (Eccl. 4)

    And let’s be real. If your kid isn’t really making wise decisions in his/her life right now, if they are dating someone who doesn’t have the same values and they surround themselves with people that listen to this kind of music all the time… don’t send them to the dance.

    These are hard decisions to enforce as a parent. But I promise you, the more you invest in your kid relationally (regularly investing in them and listening to them), the easier these rules will be to enforce. Rules without a relationship lead to rebellion.


  4. Check it out for yourself. Chaperone the dance at your local high school and see what you observe. You might find some different trends in your area. Just because I saw this in a high school in California, that doesn’t mean that it’s the same in Oskaloosa, Iowa or in Intercourse, Pennsylvania… well… maybe… I digress.

    When I blogged about this particular dance, a youth worker from a U.S. military base in Korea emailed me, commenting:

      “My wife and I chaperoned our homecoming dance and we experienced the EXACT thing you are talking about in this blog. We were truly saddened by it. So many very pretty ladies that dressed like total street girls looking like they were selling it. The grinding was crazy and to stop it was so hard. The lights were off so it was dark…WOW what a shock.”

    You might find the same trends in your area. I encourage you to check it out. Watch how many teachers actually stop the “grinding.” Maybe even take notes of the songs played, then go home and look up the lyrics. What messages were being communicated to those kids?

    Don’t over-react with what you discover. Go home, pray about it, and then come up with a logical and wise solution. If you want to confront the administration, do so in a calm, strategic manner with the evidence you collected. You're not alone in your opinions. Other school administrations are taking action to prevent this kind of dancing.

This is our culture today.

Pray how you will respond.


Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee, president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.


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Comments on this post

   Tripp Battle         11/20/2012 1:38:33 PM

I want to thank you for all the hard work that you put in to come along side Youth Workers and Parents. I absolutely love being able to stay up to date on culture without having to take away from spending time with my students (ie.-eating with them at their schools) or taking away from my message prep time in the Word! Thank you for all that you do! You truly are making a difference in people's lives!

   Jim Baty         10/10/2012 10:27:48 AM

This is a great article and spot on for what we have been observing in our community. The toleration for this and the even embracing it as a phase of adolescence is very painful to observe. I'm trying to cry out about it...

   Jonathan McKee         8/28/2012 2:50:39 PM

Thanks Matt... you speak truth! My daughter has been learning swing dancing and we've been talking about that very thing. Good word. Thanks again!

   Matt         8/23/2012 10:06:45 AM

Wonderful Article Jonathan, but I cannot stress enough, but in my opinion, there's one thing missing from your assessment. Christian Teens have a responsibility, just like Christian adults to present a proper witness to their culture. Please encourage kids to really dance, and dance well. If your son/daughter has the fortitude, learn to dance (East Coast Swing is one of our Youth Group Teen's favorites) Then get themselves in the middle of the dance floor and show the world this can be done better. I fear in our rush to condemn the world of teen dancing, sometimes it's easy to forget that dancing can be good. Teens themselves can make a difference. If I feel a teen is up for it, I'd far rather offer a positive challenge to "go change the world" whenever possible. When it comes to dance, it's a real possiblity...I've seen it right here!

   Megan Brown         10/19/2011 8:24:05 PM

This is a great article. I remember my high school days from 2002-2006. Thankfully, I was usually too distracted goofing off with friends sharing funny stories and just dancing silly. But there were those occasions and I saw some pretty ridiculous things. Some students you could CLEARLY tell were already drunk and others were basically intertwined with others...and then there's those kids sitting at the tables just chillin or others having eating contests or something if food was there. So you have a little bit of everything. And thank you Jonathan for your take on the whole lyrics thing. I know I've used that excuse before and heard others. It's just not true. Kids DO know the lyrics. They may not necessarily intentionally focus on the lyrics but if you listen to something enough it will be engrained in your brain. The subconscious can be a scary thing! We as adults need to work hard to make sure what our kids to is encouraging, edifying and positive as much as possible. Great article. I'm sharing this with my brother-in-law who is the youth pastor at our church.

   Serge         10/19/2011 12:56:17 PM

This is not 100% related, but it fits. I am a professional photographer and have shot my share of weddings (and senior portraits - but that is a whole other conversation about what parents allow and even encourage their daughters to wear and do in those). I have seen drunk people and stupid people and crazy dancing at weddings. However, a wedding this spring blew my mind. It was a "christian" wedding, with prayer and even the bride helped prepare the sermon (not sure why). But then the reception had begun. And the same bride was grinding, and not on her husband but on 3-4 groomsmen and a few other guys who paid a couple bucks for the "money dance" while the groom was doing the same with 5 or 6 other girls and even a few older women. The "money dance" is actually an old tradition to help raise spending money for the couple's honeymoon, people would put a couple bucks and dance for a verse of a song with bride or groom. Usually it is very sweet and simple. I have never before seen it with grinding and to the words of the "thong song" - and this was a VERY spiritualized wedding service. After seeing this, at a wedding with loads of teens, nothing surprises me any more.

   Karen Dekker         1/3/2011 7:28:39 AM

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   Jonathan McKee         11/21/2010 11:45:10 AM

Taylor... I appreciate your response from a teenager's perspective. First, I'll tell you that I agree that some adults seem to just spread rumors about "small groups" of teenagers as if it's happening to ALL teens. If only 62% of high school seniors have had sex, then yes, 38% have not. Adults shouldn't make it sound like all teenagers are. But at the same time, please consider that adults are worried about these numbers (whether we're talking about sex, alcohol abuse, etc.). When we hear that 15% of teenagers have received sexual text messages. We don't like the fact that 150 kids at the local high school of 1,000 kids are receiving these kind of texts! it concerns us. Yes, we shouldn't turn around and say, "All kids are doing this!" But it's okay to be concerned for those 150. I think you'll find that I don't misrepresent teenagers in these article. In fact, in this article I reported exactly what I observed, because I was right there. The fact is, the majority of the room was "grinding." Taylor, I want to ask you to consider something else. Please don't stereotype us as adults who just "blindly" are saying "all kids do this!" Stereotyping is a two way street. Agreed? One other thing you mentioned- that you don't listen to the words. I'm sorry Taylor, if you don't listen to the words, you're in the minority. Because I test this all the time when I speak at school assemblies, camps and rallies. I say a line of a popular song, like Taio Cruz's "Dynamite." I'll say: I throw my hands up in the air sometimes Saying AYO... And then I'll hold my mic to the crowd and they'll all yell back: Gotta let go I wanna celebrate and live my life Saying AYO Baby, let's go In actuality, many of the kids could finish the whole song by heart. You're not alone Taylor. I've heard it again and again from teenagers. "I don't listen to the lyrics." But the argument just doesn't hold water. They do. Furthermore, the lyrics affect them. Read here if you're interested in research on this subject: http://bit.ly/aaWO1i I appreciate your candid response. I hope in the same way you'll consider mine. Thanks Taylor!=

   Merry T         11/9/2010 9:12:51 AM

Thank you so much for this article. I teach youth girls & some of my seniors from last year left their dances. They said there was bump & grind going on, but you really painted the picture for me in this article.

   DD         11/8/2010 7:01:59 AM

This article was very informative--and sad. It is so sad that our ladies will allow themselves to be treated like this and that our young men would treat them like this. I guess we need to stay on our knees more than ever. Could you please shed some light to the question regarding having successful clean dances or parties for our youth that Jerel Peters wrote?"... The problem is if we don't play their music choices or allow them to grind they won't give the dance much of a chance - we don't allow either. Does that mean we just steer clear and don't do it, or is there a good way of making it happen. Seems impossible!" Thanks! We want give our kids positive alternatives but don't know how to go about it successfully. Ideas welcome. Also, how do we parents confront our Christian friends, in love, whose teens in the youth group have these songs on their I-pods? Thanks!

   Justin Wamsley         11/5/2010 11:40:47 AM

Scary but good info. I had parents ask me about this type of thing the DAY AFTER I read this article...

   Howard Forman         11/4/2010 8:50:42 AM

Jonathan, great article. This is so true, i deal with alot of students who are following the hip hop generation our culture today, Lil Wayne, Jay Z, Lil Jon, and others. We have a student center in Monroe, unfortunately i was not at the home coming dances in our community, but this is eye opening as a parent and a youth worker. We need to be more intentional on influencing leaders in our community and to teach the students what is truth about God's word. thank you for the in site and knowledge. Howard Forman, Monroe, GA

   CRYSTAL         11/3/2010 3:49:51 PM

I found this articl very thought provoking and a huge eye opener into the lives of tennager also as a reminder in what it was like for me to be a teen.

   Surfside Student Ministries         11/3/2010 10:31:31 AM

As I put my students faces on these situations I pray for them. I know they face this junk everyday, not just at dances. I constantly put Christian music in their hands hoping it will take the place of secular music. It is troubling to know that my leaders students have this junk in their music library. They see it as a phase, or it was okay for them. They don't see how much worse the music has gotten now. "Dear Lord, your servants are tired and we pray for our children. AMEN." Thanks Jonathan for all you do.

   Jerel Peters         11/3/2010 8:02:04 AM

I work at a community youth center and my dilemma is this: we have hosted dances in our youth center in the past and have one scheduled coming up. The problem is if we don't play their music choices or allow them to grind they won't give the dance much of a chance - we don't allow either. Does that mean we just steer clear and don't do it, or is there a good way of making it happen. Seems impossible!

   j preston         11/3/2010 7:02:58 AM

Over the last two years, we have had a group of parents (encouraged by the pastor of their church) stage an appropriate rebellion. They went to principals, school boards, PTOs, youth pastors, and asked for prayers. They gathered students together for dances, which they sponsored, with a variety of dance styles introduced - they hired swing dance instructors, salsa, etc. They got student support; they helped students have a good time in an appropriate way. Last year, our high school administration tried to have the students sign a behavior contract. The students boycotted the dance.....but when Homecoming came around, the admin was smarter, got students on board, created the contract together, and Homecoming went off without a hitch. The lights were brighter (no gymnasium designer thought to make a dimmer for basketball games), but every student I talked to said the dance was less threatening than in the past. It can be done, people. We have to be the change.

   Howard Savage         11/3/2010 6:38:59 AM

Until recently I was a chaplain at a large (1000+ students)Australian high school, where I attended a school social every term (4 per yr). Back in the mid 90's I had been chaplain at a smaller highschool & attended socials there that had been conducted by the same DJ. On attending the 1st dance at the larger school, I was shocked at the poor standard of the event in comparison to the other school I had attended years previous (esp. the introduction of the large video screen for often 'soft' porn music clips) & decided to make a complaint to the school principal after several teachers approached me at the dance about their concerns. My concerns were largely dismissed by the principal, although a message was passed onto the DJ who made some effort to improve his music selection. Fast forward a few years & one of the last school dances that the same principal was at, he stopped the event at one stage to give all the kids a dressing down about not 'dirty dancing' after complaints from other staff who were being harrassed by kids (not sure what else they expected if you put 2-300 kids in a darkened highly sexualised environment)& the event was later stopped early because the stage was egged causing $100s damage to sound equipment. After complaints from staff & students, the DJ was changed & the last social I attended before I finished up as chaplain, there was no video screen & the new DJ made much more of an effort to get the kids engaged & interacting in dances/activities - completely different 'feel' to the event.

   Vicki         11/2/2010 8:45:14 PM

I work with middle schoolers who struggle with the idea that the music they listen to is bad unless it has swear words in it. Most of them have no idea how sexually explicit the lyrics to their music is. I have said a million times "garbage in, garbage out". What the youth of today listen to and watch in movies and even on tv is getting closer and closer to just being trash. We can't then be surprised if their behavior reflects this. I would like to know how do we fix it?

   Brian         11/2/2010 8:17:06 PM

Liked the article, don't like the fashion trend. I'd like to say it is not an issue for the youth I work with, but I know it is. Makes me wonder what things will be like in 10-12 years when I will have 3 teenage girls.

   Jane Bradley         11/2/2010 5:27:22 PM

A few years ago my 2 sons were going to prom and they wanted to wear nice jeans (not holey) with there tuxedo jackets and the school wouldn't let them because it wouldn't look right. The local newspaper got wind of it and a few people agreed that they should just spend the $100 plus on a tux because that is what you should do. My sons went to the prom and were appalled by the songs and dancing, especially since prom was supposed to be so proper and formal. No one cared about the sex on the dance floor just that fact that jeans were not to be worn. Parents need to open up their eyes and ears!

   Jonathan McKee         11/2/2010 5:02:55 PM

Marie... good point about it being the boys responsibility too. Absolutely. I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear.

   Rev K Newton         11/2/2010 4:33:55 PM

thank you so much for opening the eyes of so many.

   Howie Snyder         11/2/2010 2:42:36 PM

Wow! Hard to know what to do on a cultural level besides pray.

   Marie Polk         11/2/2010 2:23:38 PM

I am disappointed that no where in this article do you mention the boys' responsibility for this type of dancing. We need to teach our boys not to put themselves in this postion either. The girls were called "sluts". What about the boys? Christian boys should not dance this way either.

   Ashkley Pease         11/2/2010 11:55:45 AM

WOW! As much as I was no surprised by any of what was written here, t took me a second to register that this is really happening. How desensitised we are as parents to these sexual actions that are young people call "dancing" After I read this article when you sent it out I actually brought the very subject up to my youth group during small groups. Most agreed that dancing now resembles "sex with their clothes on" and those who didn't have an answered could have been screaming " I KNOW!!!" through the look in their eyes. It's sad how desencitized we are to things like this...imagine what the kids will be doing in the generations to come.

   Aaron         11/2/2010 11:43:10 AM

I'm glad you posted this article. As one who has also chaperoned these dances/proms, I can say with a sad heart that many otherwise good kids loose their innocence in what many would declare to be just a little fun. Awareness is the first step to change.

   Linda Granato         11/2/2010 11:27:14 AM

This has been going on for years but it's even worse now! I know parents who won't let their kids go---except if it's prom night. Wow

   Stan McNabb         11/2/2010 11:20:20 AM

This article was rated but no comment was left

   Brent Johns         11/2/2010 11:03:51 AM

Great article. We are having disgruntled parents in our church's school about not having a dance and this article sums up our reasoning in a nutshell! Thanks for the insight.

   Stacey         11/2/2010 10:48:56 AM

I taught in a public elementary school and I saw little girls dancing and singing those same songs.

   Randi         11/2/2010 10:45:37 AM

I am certain that our school dances are similar - I know they were when I was in high school almost 10 years ago - and it is probably much, much worse now. I really appreciate this article! I think it is sometimes alarming for parents to really get a glimpse of what their kids go through in schools today, to really understand what their kids SEE every day - so this is a great reference article to help parents understand.

   Brian         11/2/2010 9:40:10 AM

great article, I used it to share with the parents of our Jr High and High School students. Great resource, thank you!

   Todd Cramer         11/2/2010 8:45:43 AM

Great insight and tips for talking with students

   Brian Childers         11/2/2010 8:39:04 AM

Eye opener thanks for this article

   Fred Peloso         11/2/2010 8:13:21 AM

This article was rated but no comment was left

   connie black         11/2/2010 7:52:36 AM

Not sure how the ratings work but this one is right on--100%. My husband teaches High School English so we have chaperoned many a dance just like this one! We are also youth pastors and know that some of our students are at these dances...participating! And really, parents don't see these lyrics, listen to what their kids are listening to and don't take an active part in their lives like they should and until they do...this will go on and get worse (if that's even possible!)

   Jeff Amundsen         11/2/2010 7:30:50 AM

I have just experienced my first dance for both my own teens and I can tell you that in my years of youth service, I had no idea what the schools were allowing at these things to go on. And the attitudes of teachers and administrators is that they have to allow it. As a youth minister and more importantly, a parent, I used this experience and this article to talk to my kids and my students. The church has got to understand what is going on in the current youth culture so we can effectively minister to these students. Thank you Jonathan for your dedication and commitment not only to students but to those of us in the trenches. Your website and books have been a valuable resource to me and my ministry since I found out about it.

   Jay Crouch         11/2/2010 6:11:34 AM

The sad reality is that we have churches doing their own dances because they don't like what's going on at school, and I find that a HUGE shame. Instead of being an influence at the dances or trying to make a difference they have retreated into their own Christian huddles.

   Eric         11/1/2010 7:38:05 PM

Thanks so much for this article, Jonathan. I appreciate how you have taken your research and mixed it with your real-life experience of the high school dance. Gave me a great eye-opener to understanding the challenges my students are confronted with at their dances each year. Good food for thought....and opportunity to bring the conversation up with them AND their parents.

   Brian Pettit         11/1/2010 2:03:41 PM

It's crazy what goes on at these dances...when I asked my own kids why they didn't go to the dance, they replied, "We don't want to be in the orgy pit." I hope more students can make the same wise decision...or have parents who intervene! Thanks for the article.

   Aaron         11/1/2010 12:05:49 PM

Having come out of this environment not too long ago, I had flashbacks of the numerous dances and proms that were exactly as described above. Now as I work in a church and with teens, I see the devastating effects of the sexualization of our society, and its increase everyday. This is why Biblical education is so important, and as Johnathan says, it begins in the home!

   Cory Williamson         11/1/2010 11:57:37 AM

Great insight into what goes on at school 'dances' and how the schools most of the time don't follow through on keeping teens accountable

   Kyle Bueermann         11/1/2010 11:30:21 AM

I remember school dances when I was in JH & HS back in the late 90's through 2001. I thought dances then were pushing the envelope - boys dancing with their hands on their date's butt (or any other girl they happened to be dancing with, actually). I remember some kids subtly grinding against each other in the middle of the dance floor, out of sight from the teachers and other supervisors. The fact that it has now progressed to the point that students do this in clear view of those in authority goes to show how far out of hand things have gotten. Sadly, many of our students probably wonder why we are making such a big deal about this.....it's only dancing, right? Unfortunately, that's the attitude we have about so many things....."It's not really THAT bad." Maybe we need to remind our students (and ourselves!) that it's not about how bad something is, the point is whether or not Christ is being exalted and others are being edified through our actions.

   Matthew Schutter         11/1/2010 10:08:24 AM

Thank you for this article! Great insights!

   Jonathan McKee         11/1/2010 9:44:32 AM

Thanks for the comment Justin- I'm glad the article was a good resource to you for parents. I agree, this music is "too graphic." I sure wish schools would stop playing it!

   Justin Pardee         11/1/2010 9:36:11 AM

Great article - I linked this to all my HS Ministry volunteers and we even sent it out in our church-wide family news letter. Super helpful to get parents attention with what I've been trying to tell them for quite sometime. Many parents complained this article was "too graphic" which made me laugh as it's just an expository of what their kids are listening too. Thanks for this!

   Rob         11/1/2010 8:50:26 AM

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