Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Grinding Down Moral Standards: Out-of-Control School Dances

Only a few years ago, at least here in the Midwest, many parents' main concern about school dances involved kids getting too close during slow dances. "Bear hugging" was the great moral threat to warn children against--as long as the music was fast, there was little to worry about. Under the incessant tutoring of the degenerate profiteers of pop culture, coupled with a foundation of parental negligence or ignorance and aided by the apathy of school officials, American students have now "progressed" so far that the intimate slow dances are the most morally tolerable part of a typical school dance. The behavior that goes with the pulsating rap dominating most dances is the real problem now, and it's a problem so severe that many students with basic standards will be so revolted that they have to leave the dance floor to avoid seeing what the "mainstream" students do. The subdued sexuality of bear hugging is nothing compared to the gross and overt sexuality of grinding while dancing, with students bringing private body parts into inappropriate contact.

Appleton's latest high-school dances were offensive, shameful, and troubling to many students who watched in sorrow and shock as so many of their friends acted like sex-crazed deviants. One can only wonder how far the debauchery of high schools will go before anyone has the courage to take a stand. Would officials gladly watch the high school become as degenerate as, say, American universities like Oberlin, where university officials promote sexual activity among the young people entrusted to its care? (Google Oberlin and Safer Sex Night if you need to read Oberlin.edu's own description of what they do.)

To those of you who do not allow your children to attend school dances, or who home school, I congratulate you for your wisdom. To you students who refuse to go or who even speak out against such inappropriate behavior, I applaud you.

I'm just amazed at how far this nation has declined.

Update: Schools Dances and Sexual Assault

Additional information from students in local high schools point to an especially troubling issue arising from the failure of our schools to provide a safe and wholesome atmosphere at school dances. In the "grinding is cool" setting where anything seems to go (one female student described the scene as a "sex pit"), an atmosphere that foments or encourages sexual assault is created. Is sexual assault the proper term for unsolicited sexual contact? I think so. A female simply standing there at the school dance can suddenly be grabbed from behind by an unseen male who then commences simulated sexual activity. Something that ought to get a person arrested for sexual assault in a place where decency prevails is not only apparently tolerated, but the victim may feel pressure to go along since everyone is doing it.

I'm really outraged at this.

One further note: Chaperons and school officials standing away from core of the activity may not be aware of how bad things are. The wholesale raunchiness tends to be shielded by the outer layer of students forming a circle around the "hottest" dancing. I suppose it's possible for adult leaders to stand around and think that grinding only occurs occasionally, when in fact a majority of dancers may do it during the course of the evening.

If I were a school official, I'd be awfully worried about the danger of sexual assault that could be occurring on my watch. I'd also be worried about the risk of a lawsuit when a student who was groped, grabbed, or ground upon against her or his will takes action against the school for allowing it to happen and even condoning it.

Parents should consider speaking out and demanding basic rules for dances that protect children. Rules and basic training about appropriate contact should be clearly conveyed to students before dances. Parents and taxpayers need not succumb to moral debauchery in the schools we pay for.

20 comments:

Zera Pulsipher said...

While they in no way come close to school dances even Church dances see their fair share of inappropriate activity done to inappropriate music. And that was ten years ago when I was graduating from youth to adult. Its a very very disturbing thing to see these kinds of things happening even where we think our kids should be safe from it. This issue really needs more light shed on it as I don't believe most parents would just accept these behaviors going on at either. Thanks for doing your part as usual.

Anonymous said...

if you don't like the school dances, then don't go or let your kids go. Aside from that, it's none of your business. You have no right forcing your morals on the school.

And Oberlin is a private university. They can do whatever the hell they want. Oberlin students are also adults - in loco parentis only applies at places like BYU.

Mormanity said...

Anon, please tell us who you are, or at least what planet you are from. These are kids - many of whom are not old enough to give consent for sexual activity even if they wanted to. Protecting children is a key responsibility of parents, who are forced to pay tax dollars and who are largely compelled to send their kids to these institutions called schools. It is our DUTY to watch out for our kids and to expect safe, wholesome settings at school activities. Keeping kids out of "sex pits" where they may be assaulted or exposed to outrageous behavior seems like a reasonable expectation for school officials.

Jack Mormon said...

Anonymous 4:20 P.M. - If my property taxes subsidize a local school district's operations, it automatically makes it my business, and I assert EVERY right to speak out on their operations, whenever, wherever, and however I please, within the confines of the law. This is in addition to my First Amendment rights.

We are tired of the corruption of our youth. We have made all the compromises we can, and will compromise NO further.

Ian said...

Amen,

I can't speak for Oberlin, I guess they can do what they want, but at public schools where our tax dollars are in play, some moral standards should expected. Allowing students to have "dry sex" on the dance floor is totally inappropriate.

Huston said...

Jeff, you're absolutely right, as usual, but I'm surprised that you're only now seeing this--is this a new development in Wisconsin, or have you not been aware of it until now?

I chaperoned a school dance seven years ago where I saw an honors student I knew bumping and grinding like she was on MTV's Spring Break--I couldn't look her in the eye for the rest of the year.

In Las Vegas, we have these kinds of problems in recent years at church dances. Not just the "problem" kids, either--the faithful children of active families dance this way now at church dances because this is the only dancing they've seen in their lifetimes. For that matter, some of the younger chaperones do, too.

Meg said...

This conversation reminds me of a footnote from the WSJ I read in Elder Christofferson's recent Conference address. It's footnote 5 and reads:

"Editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal once observed:
“Sin isn’t something that many people, including most churches, have spent much time talking about or worrying about through the years of the [sexual] revolution. But we will say this for sin: it at least offered a frame of reference for personal behavior. When the frame was dismantled, guilt wasn’t the only thing that fell away; we also lost the guidewire of personal responsibility. . . .
“The United States has a drug problem and a high-school-sex problem and a welfare problem and an AIDS problem and a rape problem. None of this will go away until more people in positions of responsibility are willing to come forward and explain, in frankly moral terms, that some of the things that people do nowadays are wrong” (“The Joy of What?” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 12, 1991, A14).

I know my daughters have decided against most church dances because they don't want to "dance" the fast dances and no one "dances" the slow ones.

Mormanity said...

I've heard scattered reports of extreme behavior from other sectors, but I don't think this became a widespread problem in my quiet little Wisconsin town until the past couple of years. Some kids I know have been taken by surprise by the explosion in vulgar activity - maybe they were just out of it also in past years.

The sexual assault angle is real and if this has been going on for years in my area, I'm shocked that other parents haven't been screaming. Of course, we will each be told that we are the only ones in the universe who have ever complained and that we are antiquated prudes who need to grow up.

Zera Pulsipher said...

Huston I'm glad to see it's not just me though now I'm hoping that since we're both from Vegas it may be localized more then i think when it comes to Church dances, I doubt it though. Also for all you thinking "oh it's Las Vegas" the church is and always has had a major presence here.

Papa D said...

Amen, Jeff.

Unfortunately, Anon's attitude is all too familiar, since heaven forbid parents care what goes on in the schools their children attend. *sigh*

Fwiw, my wife and I have chaperoned at many church dances over the last 12 years (she was YW Pres and I was in various callings that led me to be there) in OH and IL - and there hasn't been any such activity in our wards and stakes. I think it depends totally on the attitude of the local leaders, and, unfortunately, some local leaders don't take enough responsibility for oversight of dances.

jayleenb said...

Two years ago I spent 6 months in San Diego and attended several LDS singles dances held at various Ward and Stake centers. I had to leave one because of the music and the 'making-out' going on. Rap music with explicit lyrics and yes, the over-the-line dancing.

Then I went to a Singles Conference and one of the speakers basically told us, as singles, it was our duty and responsibility to attend these dances.

No way. I would never go to another. I know several people complained but nothing was done.

Mark D. said...

I would say that anyone who says that it is our "duty and responsibility" to attend singles dances is in a state of apostasy. Except perhaps the President of the Church.

catholic defender said...

Hi All,

Just some thoughts here. Dancing in and of itself is not morally wrong. In fact, in Ecclesiasties it very clearly states that there is a time for every purpose...including a time to dance. The fact that someone is out gyrating thier hips to hip hop, really is not any different than a skantilly clad ballerina dancing the Pa De Duet (Probably spelled wrong since I don't speak French) in Swan Lake in a leotard that leaves nothing to the imagination. Is one of these really more acceptable because its considered art and the other is not?

Fifty years ago the Lindy Hop was considered suggestive and provacative and was going to lead to the moral decay of our youth. Did that really happen? In the 20's it was the Jitterbug that was going to lead to the moral decay of our youth...that generation went on to become the greatest generation of modern times. The point is that it isn't the dancing that's the problem...its the mentality of the parents regarding the dancing. Its the utter lack of moral upbringing of our children that's the problem.

Because of our current society's ideas regarding children, we have created the problem. Here in the US we have created a society where our children are raising themselves because parents have become selfish and are seeing to their own needs at the expense of their children. Children with no guidance from their parents as to how to form values, form values from other sources that may not share our values. The dancing does not lead to the sexual assualts that occur...the sexual assualts occur because the children are being taught that this is how men and women are supposed to interact...that its normal.

We live in a society where our young men are encouraged to engage in promiscuity because its what makes them men. Our young ladies are taught not to balk at this, because boys will be boys. In some areas, our young ladies are also adopting the same philosophy. The dancing isn't the problem...its the parenting or lack there of that is the problem. I realize I'm probably preaching to the choir in this regard, but I just don't see how condemning the dancing addresses what it is you are trying to address. The kids dancing are just expressing themselves in the way society has taught them is acceptable...if you want them to do it in a different way, change society, not the dancing.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Ryan said...

Hi CD: I tend to agree with you on the need to change society if we want to effect any real change, but Jeff's not condemning dancing which some prude worries might be immoral in some vague sense (ie "too fun" or "too fast"). He's coming down on bodily contact that requires non-trivial repentance (for LDS, at least) but which is passed off as "dancing" (and which many of the dancers would never dream of doing under normal circumstances).

Note: I have a low opinion of many "art forms" for exactly the reasons you stated. The naked statues which clutter famous places are a particular pet peeve of mine, though I'll happily admit they usually don't "pose" anywhere near the level of innuendo you get with the average European perfume ad (actually just about any European print ad). If that makes me a prude, oh well.

Seriously, though, why in the world would any sane person want to be remembered forever as wrestling two lions, barehanded, in his birthday suit?

Zera Pulsipher said...

I'd Gladly be remembered for wrestling to lions in the nude with my barehands, that is awesomeness on the level of Heracles, or Achilles. Pure manliness that's all I can say.

On topic there is artful expression of the human body and there is exploitive or pornographic expression of the human body. The intent of the creator of such art or non-art says a lot as to what it is. Like all mediums Satan will try to blur the lines, such as the difference between petting or dancing as per the blog post.

catholic defender said...

Good Morning Ryan,

I don't necessarily disagree with your stance, but I do want to point out that there is a very fine line between prude and proper, and both are highly subjective. Bodily contact for example. You point out that the bodily contact one might experience in today's form of dancing might require one to repent if one were LDS. Most likely a catholic would have to repent too with some of the contact that occurs. But, consider some of the other forms of dance out there...ballet for instance. Is it lewd or immoral because the male dancer may touch the female dancer in some form of a lift? Not in and of itself...its the mind set that one might have which makes that touch lewd.

I would venture to say that if you questioned the kids dancing to todays music, the lewd thoughts are not present for many of them. They are just dancing and having fun. Just as our parents did, and their parents. There really is nothing wrong with that. However, I would concede that the dance moves of today are far more suggestive, and are far more likely to lead to lewd thought and intent. That's why its so important to have involved parents...people who are willing to say no to thier kids. People who are willing to instill values in thier children. The suggestive forms of dance really won't change unless we as a society decide to say no, this is not the value system we want to be remembered for.

As for nude statutes and paintings, I would point out that the human body is one of the greatest works of art ever created. The majesty of God's true talent is shown in the human form. God never created anything that was not beautiful and good. To say that art depicting the human body in its natural state is somehow wrong, lewd, or immoral really is an insult to the God who created us in his own image. It really is a question of intent on the part of the artist.

Michaelangelo's "David", at least I think it was Michaelangelo, can not be viewed in the same light as a Chippendale Poster. That statue was never intended to be viewed as being sexual...it has always been intented to be viewed as a tribute to God's creation. If you view the paintings of many of the great masters, you see many nude women. None that I know of depict those women in what would be considered a pornographic light such as you might find in Playboy. Its the intent...pornography is clearly intended to depict the carnal side of the human body...art is intended to show the true beauty of God's creation. It can be a very fine line, but there is a definite line.

As for wrestling lions naked, wouldn't be my first choice, but if two lions are attacking, I guess you don't take time to put your clothes on first :-)

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Tony said...

As one who just recently graduated high school and has seen first-hand such dancing as would be considered immoral by most practicing Latter Day Saints and those of other faiths and moral standards, I appreciate the insight and words of both Zera, CD, Jeff, and others.

To Anon:
You've got to be flippin' kidding me.

I think that parents have a right to be concerned about what goes on in the school life of their children. I also feel that LDS youth must realize and take a stand for the high standards set by the Lord through his apostles and prophets.
We need to use our agency to decide whether going to such dances where this potentially immoral behavior is practiced is really worth the few hours of music and supposed fun.

It has been my personal experience that regular school dances are just not worth it because of such. It is, of course, the personal decision of that youth and I do not condemn a person who decides to go and seperate themselves from those who practice such lewdness, whatever their intentions. It seems that it is becoming harder and harder to avoid such, though, at least from my perspective.

I am grateful that the Church dances I have been to have been overall appropriate and a place in which the Spirit can still strive, and where the youth of the Church can have fun.

I feel that after parental encouragement and spiritual guidance, it is ultimately up to the youth.

We can not falter in defending truth and right, no matter what the social consequence.

K. Ray Johnson said...

noticed this MSNBC headline this morning:

Teens held over homecoming dance gang rape.

Jeff was concerned with the failure to report harassment. California has one-upped yet another issue.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33486372/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

Staying Pure said...

being in high school i can tell you, anon, that teens dont even know what right and wrong is anymore. it actually disgusts me, some of the conversations i overhear. i actually heard a girl say today "5 isnt even bad" refering to the number of people she had slept with. sex is supposed to be a sacred way of showing you love ONE other person and only in the bonds of marriage. as shown by the girl mentioned above, teens are ignorant on morality and virtue. virginity isnt even a gift anymore. i always thought of my virginity as a gift i would give my husband, the most priceless gift that i would never give anyone else. sex has been so perverted its not considered godly in anyway. its not valued by my generation at all. its sad that marriage holds nothing to people who took it for granted. get married and what? keep having sex like you always have? how is that special? that your doing it because your in love this time? thats sick. dancing in inappropriate ways only leads to immorality. my friend commented at our school homecoming that if she were to attempt to walk through the center of the room she would lose her virginity. and yes when Elvis started the pelvic thrusting it was inappropriate but what does that tell you? its tells us that that was wrong and we allowed it and that is how we "progressed" to basically having sex on the dance floor. just because it becomes acceptable doesnt make it right.
signed,
Staying Pure

The Whiz Kid Forte said...

Hey, I'm behind you 100%, although I'm a Catholic. I run a website called Get Your Freak Dancing Off (http://getyourfreakdancingoff.tumblr.com), where people like you and me voice their opinions against grinding. I agree that parents need to teach them proper dancing.