In April 2013 an article was published in the Bridgewater, NJ Courier News, which described a controversy over the local eighth graders’ annual dinner dance. Sharon Moffatt, principal of the middle school, banned the wearing of strapless dresses. She said that such dresses “distract boys” and are “inappropriate” for young girls. “Quite often strapless dresses fall while students are dancing, becoming inappropriate,” school officials said on their website.
The ban was not unusual, but the reaction was notable. A number of the students’ parents vehemently objected to this restriction, demanding that their daughters be allowed to dress as they chose.
Why would I even mention this seemingly meaningless conflict in a middle school far from my home? Because it is yet another indication that parents are increasingly oblivious to the effects of the decisions their children make.
This is not complicated. Think for a moment and come up with just one advantage—other than the obvious purpose of accentuating and exposing breasts and additional skin—for wearing a dress without straps. Increased air circulation? Then male basketball players shouldn’t be required to wear shorts while they play. It would be cooler. No, in the early teen years, young men and women find each other plenty distracting without wearing clothing that unnecessarily exposes skin.
Kids find such clothing “cute,” without any understanding of the risks created for the artificial intimacy that can complicate and destroy relationships and healthy personal emotional development. Because of that lack of understanding, it is the responsibility of parents to set standards for children of this age. Negligence of that responsibility has consequences we cannot afford.
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