- Prom or Transcript?
By Barrington H. Brennen,
June 20, 2007
again we have reached the most painful time of the year for many parents and
guardians–-preparing for school prom extravaganzas. According to the Random
House Webster’s College Dictionary, a prom is “a formal dance held by a high
school or college class.” A prom was simply intended to be the
end-of-school-year-dance for high school seniors. Instead, it has become a
giant monster of extravagant spending, more-than-a-wedding-show-off-party,
vulgar dancing, and sexual exploitation.
high school proms, oftentimes supported by misguided parents, self-pleasing
onlookers, is a time when the cost for dresses, suits, limousines,
hairstyles, can far exceed the tuition for one school term or even a year or
two in some cases. The $300 hair dos, $300 limousines, $150 suit rentals,
$800 bear-top formal gowns, $150 shoes, can add up to a down payment for a
small home. To further exasperate this burdensome financial outlay, there
is the eternal lost of virginity and ruin of personal dignity–a painful
right of passage to adulthood. What an unwise use of money when these
budding young adults (high school graduates) have no or very little of life
experiences, nor have they ever made life-changing decisions. It’s
shocking and embarrassing at times to see the hundreds of spectators who
gather in front of hotels, sometimes hours before the promenade begins, to
cheer their favorite couple’s arrival. They are there to watch the
entrances of teenage couples dressed in apparels often more lavish than most
The pressure from peers to attend a high school prom and to join
the show-off gang with all the trappings and glitter is awesome
and seemingly unavoidable. I often wonder why parents allow
and support such an extravagant use of funds and the
ostentatious prom entrances. Why do hundreds
gather to cheer these teenagers who often appear more mature
than they really are? Why do they need giant limousines,
helicopters, escorts, and the long receiving lines of people
filled with false pride? Perhaps the greatest prom pressure is
that of sex. Another expense for prom night is the purchase of
condoms. One teenager said: "A lot of teens decide to have sex
for the first time on prom night.” "Or, they may think that
having sexual intercourse on prom night will make it that much
more special. Having condoms handy would only be smart." Often
going along with sex is alcohol and drugs. Too many teens
think of prom night at the greatest night in their life and they
want to make it that way. This is a great mistake. There are
other things more important. Yes it is the last time with
childhood friends, but life is just beginning, not ending.
male students would not agree to escort an eager female student to the prom
unless she agrees to have sex with him. One female student after the prom
was shocked when her escort, while attempting to caress her legs, said:
“Let’s go and rent a hotel room for the night.” She pushed his hands off
and said “You are messing with the wrong girl tonight. I am going home and
no other place with you.” Cheers to that girl! But far too often proms
become a night of orgy, loss of virginity, sometimes a painful introduction
to the HIV virus, drugs, and alcohol.
Isn’t it sad how some teenagers begin dreaming of a prom from the
time they enter high school and ignore the eager steps of learning?
It is as though they are on a path of no return. Unfortunately,
they are not on a learning path; they are on a “prom” path of which
the outcome is dismal. Their grades are low, and upon graduation
too many prom dancers have only received a school-leaving
certificate. Imagine a school having 300 students completing high
school and only 150 of them obtaining the minimum requirement (2.00
and above) to receive a high school certificate, but they are all
celebrating as though their goal was only to reach prom night.
Perhaps parents should make prom attendance an award-winning
affair. Only if their children make a 3.0 or above average they
would be allowed to go to the prom.
truth is when these mindless teenagers knock on doors looking for a job, the
potential employer will not be asking for the prom expense list or how
beautiful they were on prom night. The potential employer will be asking
for their transcripts. Too many students who are dancing their hearts and
bodies out on prom night will be deeply disappointed when they cannot get
the job they dreamed about all those years. Why? Because their goal was to
get to “prom night” and not to have good grades that will give them a
transcript that will make it easy to enter college or get a good paying
job. Good transcripts are testaments of bright, intellectual,
willing-to-learn students. Prom night extravaganzas offer nothing for the
future well-being of individuals. Instead, for far too many, they may
guarantee shame, embarrassment, guilt, and a lost of dignity.
THE DANCE FLOOR
Sometime ago I decided to see for myself what happens at a prom.
What shocked me the most was what happened on the dance floor.
Teenaged girls and boys who had the appearance of naivety and
innocence where “getting down” on the dance floor. I saw girls
lifting their expensive dresses as they gyrated to the pulsating
music before boys
with clearly sexual strokes. As the sensual, rhythmic music
to beg the dancers to “do it,” I saw them (boys and girls) rubbing,
stroking, grasping, and clasping, as though they were making out on
the dance floors. They did not see me as I stood in a dark corner.
I quickly left gasping for breath, ashamed, angry and shocked to my
wits. No wonder these dancers leave there sexually charged, almost
to a point of no return. Now some of you readers might be wondering
if I am a green horn, traditional, and old-fashioned. Say what you
like, undeniably, prom night has become one of this century’s
greatest diabolical sexual exposition. It is only slightly and
remotely removed from the ancient Roman and Greek worlds where
sexual goddesses pleased the appetites of hungry male
TIME TO CHANGE
If you leave it up to me, there will be no more proms. Proms are
ruining too many of our teenagers. Those readers who feel that we
should keep the tradition, I am suggesting the following:
1) Have one parent in attendance for every twenty students at
2) Stop the dancing. Focus on wholesome entertainment.
3) Change the name to End-of-Year Gala Banquet.
4) Parents or school principals make attendance to the banquet
admissible only when at least a 2.5 grade point is achieved.
5) Parents, start planning early. One student said: “If you
start talking to your kid in March of their graduating year
about why they should not want to go to the prom, then this is
not the time for a rational discussion, this is the time for
If you do not want your child to go to the prom start talking about
it from Grade 7. 6) Reduce the expenses. Spend wisely. Set a low
budget and stick to it. Remember, the banquet attendance, nor will
the cost of the paraphernalia be added to the resumes. Radical
suggestions! Think about it.
Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send
your questions to P.O. Box N-896, Nassau, The Bahamas. Or email
or call 242-323 8772