A number of years ago on a Saturday evening, I volunteered to be a chaperone at the local High School Prom. As I mentioned in my previous post about this particular Prom, I was not going to chaperone my daughter and her friend, I was there to observe the prom and ensure that my daughter was in a safe place. My participation in this event had an additional effect on me in that it confirmed my wife and I in our decision to homeschool our children.
The Public School Prom
I arrived a little before 8pm and checked in with the Chaperone Coordinator, Joy (named changed to protect the innocent/guilty). I pulled out the Prom Permission Slip and asked her if she had any final instructions for me since I was a new chaperone. Politely she told me that there were some chairs around the room where I could sit and that the best place for me was near the food. I asked about rule enforcement and she said that they weren’t that strict about applying them and she told me to make sure the kids didn’t do bad things with the food.
Now I kind of like rules, they help everyone to determine if they wish to do something and give a certain sense of security knowing the parameters which they are allowed to operate within. Think about a city with no rules about traffic flow, chaos would quickly ensue if drivers did not know if they had the right of way or if they were unsure that the other person would stop at the red light. I also believe that if you establish rules, then you have a responsibility to enforce them, otherwise you do a disservice to those who observed them. So with that in mind, here is my first hand report on how the rules, to which all students and their parents agreed, were enforced.
Rules and Reality
Here is a subset of the rules that were laid forth in the Permission slip (that both attendee and parent were required to sign).
- All guests will be subject to random alcohol screening. Students who appear to be under the influence or smell of alcohol or illegal substance are subject to testing as well. There will be no possession or use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs by participants. Anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be turned over to and taken into custody by Round Rock Police, Williamson County Sheriff or Austin Police (whichever has geographic jurisdiction) and school discipline will ensue.
There were police officers at the Prom event, both outside the entrance to the ballroom and a few inside the ballroom. I didn’t see any breathalyzers, but they were watching the kids and I have no reason to believe that they were not prepared to enforce this rule.
- Students may not wear revealing and/or spandex dresses. Inappropriate dress includes evening gowns that drop below mid-back, dresses that expose or use sheer material to cover stomach or bodice area and dresses that are above mid-thigh. Dress for gentlemen will be formal to semi formal (tuxedo or suit/tie). Casual dress is prohibited.
This one was not enforced at all. The rule is pretty specific – evening gowns that drop below mid-back or expose stomach or bodice area or above mid-thigh are prohibited. Here are a couple of ladies in attendance at the Prom (removed from this article due to privacy concerns). The dresses I saw showed bare backs (down to the waistline) and stomach bodice areas exposed and some dresses were well short of mid-thigh. The photo here shows some of the obvious violations, but there were many more.
- Students will be placed in a separate holding place for inappropriate dancing (lap dances, bumping and grinding and any other movement that appears to simulate sexual acts), and indecent exposure or removal of under garments. Once removed from prom students must call their parent to arrange pick-up.
I didn’t notice a holding room and was not advised as where I should take someone if they violated the dancing rule (recall I was only instructed to protect the food table). At first the dance floor was fairly tame, the lights were up to where I could see people’s faces and the tables, then the lights were dimmed, a lot. Shortly after the mood lighting was set everyone moved to the dance floor, hardly no one at any tables, almost 200 people on a fairly small dance floor. With that many people on the dance floor you can imagine there was not much room between anyone. I saw quite a bit of bumping, grinding and simulated sex on the dance floor and so did a number of my fellow chaperones who were standing within 10 feet of the dance floor (one male chaperone appeared to be around 65, but all he did was watch). I mentioned it to, Joy, the chaperone coordinator, that there was inappropriate dancing going on and her reply was, “unless they are having sex on the dance floor, then we are OK.”
So the rules were a farce and it appears there was never any intention to enforce them. I wonder if any parents who signed the forms were aware of this? Perhaps if they were, they may have thought twice about sending their child. The closest analogy I can make to what I witnessed at this dance was that it reminded me of a sixth street dance club back in the late 80s on Sixth street (it is probably about the same today, but I haven’t been to a dance club recently). The only thing missing was a the bar.
Educating the Next Generation
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, my resolve to continue homeschooling is stronger than ever after attending this event. What is the purpose of schooling, be it public or private: to educate our children. I think all parents and members of the community would agree with this statement. Undoubtedly, their definition of what education should entail would differ greatly. Some would define education as the basics: reading, writing, science and math. Some would add other subjects also: music, art, physical education, and sports. Some would also add that the children also need to be taught how to act like adults, in a sense, they need to be assisted in the maturing process.
I believe that all of the above goals are good and worthy to be pursued. Each child will get an education, they soak up everything they see, both the good and the bad. They will either learn reading, writing, and math properly or they will learn to hate it. They will learn how to be adults also, but if the formation is lacking, they will learn how to be very immature adults and potentially unproductive members of society, and may even live out some of their time behind bars.
Based on the behavior of many of the young adults at this school event, I would venture to say that our schools and society are failing miserably in the area of educating young people on how they should act. Unfortunately, I participated in many events like Prom when I was growing up, both in high school and college. Not a whole lot has changed in the past 25 years, but I believe it may have have gotten worse. I would never have acted that way in front of a chaperone, nor would most of the people I knew. Even when we were acting immature, we knew that our parents and other adults would not approve. So we snuck around and did it without their knowledge. If there were rules concerning proper behavior and dress at a dance, we knew that violations would result in consequences. It does not appear that is the case anymore. The rules are meaningless and the kids know it. What are we teaching our children? We must be very careful, because they are watching our every move and action and are learning from it, for better or for worse.
Please read the other articles in this series: