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Board Wants Report on Grinding at School Dances

A flustered parent implored the board to do something to stop sexually charged dancing among students because it still happens despite efforts to curb it.

A parent wants to outlaw a sexually loaded dance move at school dances, saying that principals haven’t done enough to stop the activity. At least one school board member agrees, calling the activity sexual harassment.

The parent, who wished to remain nameless for fear of backlash against his child, told the Anne Arundel County Board of Education on Wednesday that grinding has become a “countywide crisis of misconduct.” He claimed to represent other parents who want stricter guidelines for what happens on the dance floor.

“The problem is that a form of dancing, commonly called grinding, openly occurs at dances with little effort to effectively stop it,” he said. “This naturally leads to more egregious sexual behavior within a close-quartered mosh pit, which can number 100 or more students.”

He described graphic scenarios based on what he has heard happen at these dances, including seeing underwear around female students’ ankles. Some of these descriptions caused a stir among board members. The student board member stared wide-eyed as the parent continued in elaborate detail.

Instead of enforcing the student handbook, he believes administrators have essentially condoned grinding at these dances. He called for an addition to the handbook that would specifically outlaw the act, and also rethink how the dances are managed. However, he stopped short of saying that the dances should be canceled outright.

“Parents are furious, and their numbers are growing daily. They have lost respect for the school system and administrators for allowing grinding at dances,” he said.

But some defensive measures have been taken to keep the dance floors clean. Before buying tickets to homecoming this year, students reportedly were required to sign a dance contract agreeing that they will not participate in certain activities.

"Sexually explicit dancing will not be tolerated," the contract reads, before specifically outlawing grinding, freaking, making out, and other actions.

The parent said a paper contract clearly wasn't enough to stop some students from doing it anyway.

Board member Eugene Peterson was the first to respond, saying a presentation like this was long overdue.

“We know this is an issue. It’s been an issue since my daughter was in high school, and she’s been teaching for four years now,” Peterson said.

He asked the superintendent to review the parent’s recommendations and also get a “reality check” on how extensive the sexually loaded dancing has become.

Peterson asked for a report on what could be done to curb the problem, short of canceling school dances.

“Which could be an option, if this regrettable activity continues,” Peterson warned. “Make no mistake about it—this is sexual harassment, plain and simple, whether it’s consensual or not.”

Board member Solon Webb said in his experience chaperoning at school dances, he’s noticed that parents are severely outnumbered by students. He asked for any available parent to help with chaperoning future dances.

“There definitely is not a good ratio of parent supervision to students at any of these events,” he said.

Deputy Superintendent Arlen Liverman disputed that teachers and staff were standing idly by while grinding occurred.

“Our principals are, in fact, addressing these issues as aggressively as they can,” Liverman said.

However, he admitted that there is some room for improvement, and said staff would be looking into it.

Another high school parent, who also asked that her name be withheld, told Patch she chaperoned a homecoming dance and was shocked by the behavior of students that was "rampant, overtly sexual and embarrassing to watch."

"I wish there was another option for boys and girls wanting to dance together," she added. "It's like skipping the romance and going straight to the bedroom."

Editor's note: This article has been updated from a previous version to reflect that there is a student board member.

John Frenaye December 24, 2011 at 03:07 AM
Prudence----why do dads need to talk to their sons? Perhaps moms need to talk to their daughters as well!
Rebecca Feibel February 02, 2012 at 08:53 PM
I do think it is often sexual harrasment as in such a highly charged, peer pressure induced type situation, "consensual choices" are very hard to make or even recognize. Dances should not be cancelled. As one earlier commenter stated, when the chaperones start shuting down the dance because of the inappropriate behavior, the message will get across. Yes, their are many sexually charged songs, TV shows, movies, etc. So, lets make a place that is SAFE for teens to have fun, dance if they want to, without fear of being part of or witnessing overly sexual acts.
Gambrillsmom February 04, 2012 at 08:43 AM
Are people missing the quote about "seeing underwear around female students' ankles," or just ignoring it? That's multiple students, too, if you read it correctly. Did kids in my school grind? Absolutely, from 7th grade up, and I graduated in the mid-90's. Did we pull our pants down? No, I can think of no good reason to do that on a dance floor. It sounds like, unsurprisingly, it's being taken farther than most of us took it as teenagers. Enforce the rules, and if you can't, tell parents that dances WILL be cancelled unless you get more help chaperoning. I also agree with Chet about the moral consistency of young people growing up today. In fact, I just read a study that says they're more conservative than their parents in drug and alcohol use, and sexual activity.
Thanks October 05, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Dirty Dancing and the Board: what was the end of the story?
Mom3SP October 15, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Grinding at SPHS homecoming dance! Yes there was this past weekend. Patch, what was the end of this story? I now agree with the earlier poster that the DJ and staff could structure the party better with dance activities. I have not seen dirty dancing at weddings and the like! The DJ could demonstrate moves and could even make a game of flashing a spotlight on offending couples.

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