Ryan McDonnell examines the recent controversial Kilkenny Teen Disco dress code.
Facebook users revolted last week when a Kilkenny Teen Disco posted a refined version of their dress code. Girls cannot wear dresses with a ‘plunging neck line’ and were told to ‘keep it Neat and Discreet ladies.’
 
This phrase can be, without a doubt, considered body shameful but a strict dress code for 15 – 17 year old children can deemed reasonable for all the wrong reasons.
 
You should have the right to wear whatever you like but you should expect some sort of dress code for a hosted event. So yes, there are limitations to how much you want to express yourself through clothing. But when an organisation like a Teen Disco uses this language then a line between body shaming and a dress code has been crossed.
 
Provocative clothing among teenage girls isn’t a new phenomenon, and control over what women should wear has been around for centuries. People should be able to wear what they like and the expression of one’s self through clothing should be celebrated but under the circumstances of SOME, not all teenage boys and girls, the rationality of this is blurred by new found emotions.
 
The number one priority of a parent is to ensure the safety and happiness of their child. A parent would think to let their child do what makes them happy. But some factors may not be taken into account like the fact that a 15 – 17 year old child won’t have the same life experience or sexual education as an adult. At 15 – 17, a child’s brain is still developing, learning about sexual relationships and exploring their sexuality. With that, they are also learning the risks that come with it and how sexual interaction varies from person to person. In an ideal world people
could dress the way they want but showing skin at a teen disco is going to result in a child who doesn’t fully know the boundaries of consent to make a move at some point.
 
A parent shouldn’t completely wrap their child in too much bubble wrap either. A child needs to understand the consequences that may come with their clothing choices and mistakes need to be made to learn and grow. A nightclub using unnecessary body shameful language is a result of a society that is failing to educate secondary school children in sex education. This results in organisations like kid's discos imposing dress codes to deter children from inappropriate sexual exploration at a disco. 
 
The Department of Education released their Actions Plan on the 6th of Feburary stating that they intend to ‘improve services and resources to promote wellbeing in our school communities to support success in school and life’ and do this through publishing ‘the 2015 life skills survey, providing information on how primary and post-primary schools cater for the wellbeing of their students.’ This includes sexual education in schools ‘for sustainable development, will inform future priorities and policies on wellbeing.’
 
The improvement of sex educational services in our schools is the direction we need to go in to stop controversial events like the Kilkenny Teen Disco’s dress treatment of teenagers and it’s direction we need to move in to develop a better sexual educated society.