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No Dance For You!

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005 1:26 PM

Citing concerns about values, two Roman Catholic high schools in Long Island have cancelled the senior prom.

That'll teach 'em.

School administrators have expressed concerns over sex, alcohol use, and 'rampant materialism'.

Well, heck. Break out the chastity belts, serve bottled water, and have 'em all wear jeans and t-shirts.

But how are you going to keep them down on the farm now that they've seen Par-ee, as the old song goes?

Is this cultural entropy at work? That no matter how moral and correct the school environment, there's some kind of insidious Lord of the Flies factor involved?

Don't get me wrong. I was an honest-to-goodness, pocket-protector wearing, calculator-toting nerd in high school. Yet I understand the social pressures, implied in everything from 'beauty' magazines trumpeting sexual techniques to booty-shaking music videos and commercials that quietly exhort one to, 'drink responsibly' (which implies that the montage of so-cool parties with a not-so-understated hint of sexual tension are 'responsible').

The answer is not to ban expression of such ideas or images, not to repress teenagers who are puzzling out their values and identities as is normal, but to teach them critical thinking skills and broad concepts that allow them to develop their own moral constructs, to weather the storms of adolescence and the mixed messages found in society.

And then we have to trust them to make intelligent decisions, and not punish them if they fail to meet our 'adult' standards.

But is it really our children's fault if they choose to emulate us and the lessons we provide?

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