Do High School Dances Fuel Our Children’s Insecurities?

*Pictured above: Some cool kids from Flickr, whom I’ve never met, getting ready for the high school dance.

My seventeen-year-old son came home Saturday night from his high school winter formal with a look that could summon the dead. Misery. Pure, unconditional misery.

All I could do was empathize, and then wonder why, after 150 years of advances in child psychology, schools are still supplying the means for exclusion and disappointment of the many, in favor of reinforced superiority for the few. The high school dance – proverbial American dream, climax for thousands of clichéd teenage movies. Where dreams are big, pressure is high, the social hierarchy gets steeper, and the memories can truly last a lifetime.

As usual, Facebook added to the fun, as Perfect Parents posted professional-quality pictures of their sons and daughters, all gussied up in front of a photogenic mansion or a city fountain that typically serves as a backdrop for wedding photos. Parents showed off their models like Apple unveils its newest iPhone. The gang was all there in bow ties, hot cars, and the sparkly, skin-tight dresses of fifteen-going-on-twenty-five-year-old girls, ready for all the frolicking fun that is their high school winter formal. Kudos to the parents who hosted the after-parties, keeping the “cool” going all night long, but taking the kids’ keys because safety is their first priority when alcohol is served.

What do you think? Are high school dances beneficial, or do they just reinforce the divide between the haves and the have nots? How has the high school dance helped or hurt your child? Why do schools perpetuate this tradition? Please send me your thoughts!


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