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News >  Voices

Chaperones vital to future of teenage rite

Jennifer Larue Special to Voice

Recently, Central Valley High School had its first dance mixer of the year put on by the leadership class. Several hundred kids, grades 9-12 attended. I was a chaperone, one of only two parents who decided to brave the event.

Administrators, teachers and security were also there. Take a minute to thank them because without them, your kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to get “jiggy with it.” Dozens of students were removed for sexually provocative dancing. Supervisors would correct problems on the floor only to have others start the inappropriate dancing.

Some kids were enormously disrespectful. My cheerful and positive attitude earned sneers, eye rolls and “talk to the hand” gestures. I even heard some profanities directed toward me.

I walked the perimeter for a while. I could not really see anything because of the black lights and flashing lights and I did not feel authoritative enough to venture into the center of the action. I spent much of the time by the front door watching dramas unfold.

One major rule was that after 9 p.m., there would be no re-entry once you went outside. It made sense, because the school was responsible for the kids, and who knows what might happen in the parking lot? One car was vandalized.

Many of the kids had a hard time accepting the no re-entry rule.

Only about 10 percent of the kids were thrown out, but those kids are putting the future of mixers in jeopardy. In response to the unacceptable behavior, administrators are currently discussing alternatives.

Parents could make an impact. Adult role models and supervision are critical for this age group. Two parents are not enough. Call the school prior to these events. If you cannot chaperone, ask about the expectations and go over them with your teenager. Show up at the dance and stay for the entirety, and if your child stomps and whines, show up anyway because they still need your guidance. Your presence could make all the difference.

Although the administrators say that more parents at these events would help them run more smoothly, they are not sure that parents are comfortable in that role. I have to admit, I felt a little nervous every time I looked out the front doors at the 40 or so scowling faces of the kids who had been kicked out looking back at me.

Still, it was worth it when polite kids thanked me for helping out, and still others stood beside me for comfort in the unfamiliar surroundings. Another thing, if peers are pressuring a teen, an adult close by might be just be the thing that enables the teen to say “no”.

Thanks again to the administrators, teachers and security officers at Central Valley. I know that the other parents would be as impressed as I was by your excellent role modeling and supervision.

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