Welcome to YPAD’s Resource Page. Here you will find information about Internet Safety, Research on the Sexualization of Dance, Media and Article pertaining to the Suggestions and Guidelines, Vocabulary we use and so much more! Click the tabs for more information.
Research on the Sexualization of Children
This section covers the sexualization of young children in our society, especially young girls. One must see highlight is the Dr. Tomi Ann Roberts Interview, which is the first of it’s kind in the dance industry and will raise questions about how we allow children to dance.
Journalists, child advocacy organizations, parents and psychologists have argued that the sexualization of girls is a broad and increasing problem and is harmful to girls.The APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls was formed in response to these expressions of public concern.
Dr. Tomi Ann Roberts PhD. Sits down with YPAD about the sexualization of children in dance.
Dr. Christina Donaldson talks about the effects of sexualized music and dance.
Choreographer Tina Landon talks about Sexualized Choreography on Children.
The Effects of Hyper Sexualization of Girls in the Media - Geena Davis
The Sexy Lie: Caroline Heldman at TEDxYouth
What Are We Telling Our Daughters- Women in the World Conference 2014
Seejane.org on female stereotypes in media
On a related note, are you against bare midriffs?
We don’t believe that the midriff is sexual in nature, as it is the core and foundation of dance; however it is sexualized in culture and research reveals that it can be a point of shame and comparison for many young dancers. We have recommendations and resources for keeping it “body positive.” We invite you to use these resources to help facilitate a conversation with your dancers on these important issues.
Body Image has a profound effect on many dancer’s everyday life. It is interconnected with self-esteem, relationship to food, media messages and emotional and behavioral health. As dance professionals, we are in a unique position to influence our students’ body image in a positive and powerful way. It’s vital we remain aware of the verbal and nonverbal messages we are giving our dancers. Many dance educators have experienced the pain of body shame and some have suffered from an eating disorder or body dysmorphia. It is not uncommon for an adult dance teacher to share they were on the receiving end of a teacher that was critical of their bodies when they were younger and those comments can stay throughout adulthood. Those experiences can grow a pro-active, community effort to advocate for the children and teens under our care and help them build a positive and healthy relationship with their bodies!
Bullying in the Dance Environment
You Can STOMP Out Bullying™! REPORT It!
Don’t be afraid to tell an adult. Telling isn’t tattling! You are helping someone.
Who should you tell?
You could tell your parents, teacher, school counselor, school nurse, coach or any adult you trust. Be sure to tell exactly what happened … who was bullied, who the bully was, where and when it happened. Even if you suspect a kid is being bullied, it’s a good idea to report that, too. Most adults really do care about bullying and will be glad that you told them about it.
If you tell an adult and you don’t think they are doing anything about the bullying or if the situation isn’t improving, tell another adult. Keep telling adults until someone does something to help.
BE A FRIEND TO SOMEONE WHO IS BULLIED
Just being supportive to a person who’s been bullied is comforting. It shows that someone or many people care.
When someone is down they need a friend. Be there for the person who is being bullied. Be a buddy on school grounds, get together after school, include them in activities, Walk home with them, sit with them on the bus. Being an understanding and supportive friend means so much. Show a kid who is being bullied that you care about them.
STAND UP TO THE BULLY
If you feel safe and comfortable, tell the bully that what they are doing is mean and wrong. It’s not cool and they should stop. Keep it simple. Do not bully them back. If you are not comfortable standing up to the bully, tell an adult
Here is a great handout on what to do if you are being bullied courtesy of Stop Bullying Now.
Conflict can be scary, but it is a natural part of interpersonal relationships. No two people are perfectly aligned 100% of the time. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to communicate, there will be misunderstandings, disappointments, or differences of opinion that arise. Any type of change (like building and maintaining a YPAD environment) is likely to involve conflict, as conflict drives change and change can create conflict.
YPAD Educational Webinar: Conflict Management
Curtain Call Costumes is the World’s First YPAD Certified Costume Company!
Overall concepts are important and they contain the message you are asking your dancers to express with their bodies. Concepts often inform music, movement and costuming choices. Collectively these elements come together and, if they cumulatively convey an unhealthy message, they can harm children and teens.
Some of these harmful concepts are fairly obvious: adult sexuality, gang activity, and drug and alcohol abuse, for example. But there are others that are potentially harmful if not handled in a sensitive and skillful way, especially when it comes to our younger dancers. Concepts that promote the “mean girl” mentality, gossip, sex appeal, affairs, etc., can be confusing to young children who might not understand the difference between stage and real life. Every artistic concept is a form of education that teaches our student’s ideologies about boys, girls, friendship, love, commitment, relationships, values… and children and teens can even absorb occupational aspirations through dance.
Encourage movements that empower your dancers in their bodies and bodies’ capabilities, not ones that get the loudest cheers from the audience due to trends.
As dance professionals, it is our responsibility to ensure that every piece of choreography that hits stage and each technical drill practiced in class is age and developmentally appropriate. As creators of movement, we must err on the side of safety when deciding if a given movement could possibly expose dancers to an over-sexualized atmosphere. This also includes the guidance and “building blocks” we provide our dancers on freestyle and improvisation.
The responsibility for protecting our youth dancers from sexualized movement extends beyond the studio to competitions and conventions. Dance professionals should not choreograph sexualized movement into competition pieces, and competition judges should not reward competition pieces that sexually package our youth. In fact, one of the most efficient and effective ways of reducing exposure to sexualization in dance would simply be to step awarding prizes and trophies to ANY competition piece that includes sexualized content.
Body Image and Eating Disorders in Dance
As dance professionals, we’ve all been confronted with the issue of eating disorders and disordered eating, whether we ourselves have been affected, or whether someone around us (colleagues, students, employers, etc.) has struggled. Of course, dancers aren’t the only people who experience eating disorders and disordered eating.
Here are some basic facts to consider:
- 24 million people suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder)
- 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
- 50% of teenage girls and one-third of teenage boys will use unhealthy weight control behaviors
- An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male. However, men will be less likely to seek treatment due to negative stigma.
Tutu Thin by Dawn Smith Theodore.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.s)
What is YPAD?
- YPAD (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance) is a non-profit organization dedicated to building empowered dance communities and keeping kids healthy and safe in all dance environments.
- Our Advisory Panel includes PH.D specialists in multiple fields and dance leaders that span the country.
- YPAD’s programming has a strong focus on the emotional, physical and sexual health and the self-esteem and identity of children and teens. Our educational umbrella encompasses interactive seminars for all adults in dance that have an influence over children including their parents and dance workshops for all ages and levels.
- YPAD has a library of evidence-based research which raises awareness regarding the exploitation of youth in our dance culture, inclusive of but not limited to; psychological harm, sexual abuse, hyper-sexualization or kinetically unsafe instruction for growing children and young adults that leads to unnecessary injuries.
- YPAD provides inter-active seminars and educational programming to studio owners, conventions, teachers, dancers and dance parents. Topics include self-esteem, identity, body image, healthy social media use, media literacy, effects of sexualization, bullying, injury prevention, nutrition and more. ypad4change.org/seminars
- Our outreach division, EDIFY Movement, organizes dancers to teach at orphanages in Mexico and Africa and service events at dance studios across the nation for homeless shelters, assisted living communities and food drives. edifymovement.org
- YPAD’s programs and services, including our first-of-its-kind certification and YPAD standards are outlined in greater detail at the end of these FAQs, as well as in YPAD’s brochure and on our website: ypad4change.org/standards
YPAD’s focus is on providing dance studios, conventions, competitions, instructors, dance professionals, parents, community members and dancers with the support, education, tools and resources they need to make healthy choices in the dance environment and the world. We are committed to pursuing our mission without shame or judgment. This is a journey and we are all in this together!
Does YPAD want to “police” music, movement and costume choices in the dance world? Is YPAD advocating for increased government oversight of the dance industry?
- YPAD’s focus is on providing education, resources and support so that we can work together to keep youth and teens happy, healthy and safe in dance.
- We believe that dance professionals play a key role in influencing the self-esteem and identity of those under their care.
- Our goal is to share tips and tools to everyone in the world of youth dance (including studio owners, instructors, competition and convention owners, parents, and the dancers) in order to avoid potentially harmful situations. YPAD isn’t interested in blanket censorship, policing the dance industry or in spearheading legislation. Instead, we believe that education leads to self-regulation.
Isn’t the “appropriateness” of a music, movement, concept and costuming choice a matter of personal opinion?
- Our commitment to creating positive, healthy and safe dance environments for our children doesn’t come from opinions, it comes from a large body of research and advice from the top psychologists, policymakers, professors, health care professionals and youth dancers who agree: unhealthy dance environments are harming children.
- Our YPAD Handbook “Tools Not Rules: Standards, Recommendations and Suggestions” has been thoughtfully created by PH.D specialists and dance leaders from across our nation to offer guidance in these areas.
Does YPAD offer any services, training or other programming?
- YES! YPAD offers a wide variety of information, resources, and support services, as well as a variety of educational and dance-related programming. Please refer to our brochure or our web site for details.
YPAD’s Primary Offerings
Certification – YPAD’s first-of-its-kind certification program is designed for dance studio owners, dance instructors, competitions, conventions, judges and parents who are influential over children, who wish to become educated on cutting edge research from industry experts on keeping our youth dancers happy, healthy and safe in all ways: physically, mentally and emotionally. Certified studios will go through intensive training to uphold YPAD’s standards relating to costuming, music choices, movement choices, injury prevention, sexualization, sexual abuse reporting and more. The YPAD Certification Program is taught over two 6-8 hour days (usually over a weekend). Live “on-site” and interactive videoconference options are available. This certification also includes a module on marketing and branding so you can thrive as a YPAD Certified Organization and be recognized as leaders in integrity.
Interactive Seminars – YPAD offers a number of interactive seminars:
Self-Esteem and Identity in Performing Arts – An interactive seminar that addresses the effects of performing arts on children’s and teens’ self esteem and the influence social networking and entertainment media has on their identity, body image, relationship with self and others. Participants are introduced to their “Spirit Swag” – the style of their character!
Support for Parents (and Caretakers) in Today’s Dance Culture – An interactive seminar that introduces parents and caretakers to cutting edge research on topics such as nutrition, injury prevention, self-esteem, social media use, internet safety, body image, sexualization, bullying, boundaries, advocating for their child and more. This forum also allows the parents to openly share the specific struggles or concerns they may be having with their child and to interact with other dance parents to help facilitate solutions and support one another.
YPAD Teacher/Judge Seminar – An interactive seminar that provides dance educators with an introduction to the “Tools, Not Rules” they need to navigate these complicated issues. Programming includes insights into healthy costume, music and movement choices, as well as other topics aimed at keeping children and teens happy, healthy and safe in dance. The seminar also serves as a private forum for educators to voice their concerns and struggles with their students’ healthy emotional and physical development.
Anti-Bullying Campaign for Boys (Big Brothers in Dance) – This support program offers young male dancers encouragement and support from adult male dance mentors who have weathered the storm and are now thriving in their craft.
Dance Environment Sexual Assault Resources – YPAD’s first-of-its-kind sexual abuse in dance division raises awareness and provides education, resources and guidance on spotting the signs of sexual abuse and sexual abuse reporting; helping survivors, their families and the communities around them connect with the professional help they need.
Mindful Social Media Fasts for Dancers – Dr. Tomi-Ann Roberts, Ph.D., and YPAD Founder Leslie Scott have teamed up to facilitate this life changing experience for youth who have completed YPAD’s Self-Esteem Seminar. Dancers embark on a “social-media-free” three-day guided journey with their peers, during which they share, reflect and engage in alternative activities that enhance their lives as well as their ability to make healthy choices while online.
Holistic Hip Hop Classes – Open your Mind and your Body will follow! As dancers, we will see stunning results by working on our mind and Spirit before our movement! Students learn some tips and tools, which will break down mental and emotional barriers in students of all ages, gender and skill level so you can experience the gift dance was meant to be.
All of this and much, MUCH more!
What is the difference between healthy sexuality and sexualization?
- Healthy sexuality involves acknowledging and accepting that we are all sexual beings and that human development includes sexual development. Sexuality is an important aspect of our physical and mental health. It involves the mutual respect of consenting partners and fosters intimacy, bonding and shared pleasure. Healthy sexuality includes approaching sexual interactions and relationships from a respectful and informed perspective, free from coercion, objectification and violence.
- Sexualization, on the other hand, is unhealthy and may have long-term consequences to all aspects of a child’s development. It occurs any time sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person or child. When children are portrayed with adult sexuality, this adult sexuality is imposed upon them rather than chosen, and this is a form of sexualization. It also occurs when a person is viewed as an object to be acted upon, rather than as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision-making.
When a person is made into a “thing” for others’ enjoyment, elevation of status, financial gain and/or sexual use, sexualization and objectification has occurred.
It is important to understand that self-motivated sexual exploration is not considered sexualization, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.
In his book Girls on the Edge, Dr. Leonard Sax sums it up this way: “Sexuality is good, but sexualization is bad. Sexuality is about your identity as a woman or a man, about feeling sexual, that’s a healthy part of being human, a healthy part of becoming an adult. Sexualization is about being an object for the pleasure of others, about being on display for others. Sexuality is about who you are. Sexualization is about how you look.”
If I can’t use sexualized concepts, music, movement or costuming with my youth students, won’t that limit my artistic expression and/or freedom of artistic speech?
- First and foremost, we believe in the creative power of our dance peers – every day we see examples of talented choreographers and dancers creating amazing, positive, and healthy dances. It can be done.
- Second, similar to academic institutions, dance educators are ethically responsible for creating a healthy and safe learning environment for their students. When we work with children, we give up a certain degree of artistic freedom, by necessity. We would never bring a nude model into a junior high art class, or use “Fifty Shades of Grey” as a high school English class reading assignment. Dancers are both athletes and artists, and we use our bodies for expression so the safety of the learning environment is, in many ways, more complicated than an academic classroom. However, in dance education and all other types of education there is a common denominator: The educational methods we use with children are going to differ from those we use with adults.
You’ve said that sexualized costuming can be harmful, but aren’t children even less dressed when they’re in a bathing suit?
- We wear different kinds of clothing for different purposes. Some are functional. Coats keep us warm in winter, leotards allow us to stretch and move freely, swimsuits help us glide in the water and get some sun. Other forms of clothing are highly decorative — less function and more form (like prom dresses or tuxedos). Dance costumes tend to be more form than function, as they are often designed to enhance expressive features in dance, all while allowing the dancer to move.
- When sexualized costuming is used, it’s not the same as being on the beach in a bathing suit. When children wear bathing suits at the beach or pool, they are not on display for an audience. In most cases if a costume looks like a bikini, it is not functioning as a bikini– its function is mostly expression. There are fun and healthy concepts that may utilize a bikini (such as when a piece has a beach theme), and when the movement and song are not sexual in nature the costume choice of a bikini is not sexualization. However, if the message behind the costume choice is “be sexy,” the children wearing those costumes are being sexualized.
What’s wrong with “dancing sexy”? Don’t we have the right to express our sexuality?
- Adults absolutely have the right to express their sexuality, including through dance. We are sexual beings and healthy sexuality is an important part of life. However, when adults impose sexuality on children (whether it be through instructing a child to do sexualized movement, dance to highly sexualized lyrics, wear sexual attire, or “act sexy” for the camera/audience), the effects can be very damaging.
- Children can begin to view themselves as objects, only appreciated and valued for their sexy appearance, as opposed to their competence, training and skill. When expressions of sexuality are one-directional, as is the case in dance performance (designed for a viewer, a judge, or an entire audience to look at and evaluate) then the “expression” of sexuality is not mutual or consensual. The expression is solely for other people’s enjoyment. When very young children “perform” sexuality this way, then they are learning that their bodies belong in a sense to others, not to themselves.
While YPAD’s mission is focused on protecting children in dance, we are concerned with the increasing levels of objectification of adults (which affects both women and men) in our media-saturated culture and in the world of dance. Young dancers admire and emulate their instructors, as well as the adult dancers they see on YouTube, in music videos, on awards shows, TV, etc. When those adults are being objectified or engage in self-objectification, those behaviors become not only acceptable to children, but also influential and something with which to aspire. We are encouraged, however, by the work being done by amazing organizations like the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, RewindReframe.org , American Psychological Association, the #WomenNotObjects campaign and others to address these disturbing trends on a more general level.
Children don’t understand the sexual messages or double-entendres, so how harmful can lyrics be?
- Unfortunately, a great deal of research shows that children often DO understand lyrics and, in fact, these lyrics actually impact the way children’s brains, identities and attitudes toward sex, drug-use and violence develop. This is especially true for adolescents, who connect deeply with music. For them, music influences identity development probably more than any other entertainment medium.
- In a nutshell, when lyrics suggest that men force themselves on women and treat them as sexual objects to collect, they can have a terrible effect on how boys treat girls. These types of lyrics can also teach girls that their main value is to give sexual pleasure, which can impair a teenage girl’s self-worth and lead to a poor or distorted body image, eating disorders, depression, and even drug or alcohol abuse.
- On the other side of this is increased music messaging of females dominating and objectifying men. Music and many music videos distribute the message that in order to be an empowered feminist one must take away the power of another gender and aggressively dominate them. This is not moving towards gender equality, but instead teaching young girls a distorted definition of empowerment.
- These effects can be compounded in the world of dance. When we dance to music, we simultaneously internalize it and strive to express the message of the song with our bodies. When we rehearse, we listen to the song – including the lyrics – over and over and over. When the lyrics of that song involve direct or indirect messages of sexualization, drug and alcohol use or violence, our children and teen dancers are hearing those messages in a very concentrated way. And when they are also affirmed by external sources such as social media, applause or a trophy, the effect of the sexualization is compounded even further.
Two psychologists on our Advisory Panel have weighed in on this important issue – please take time to watch Dr. Tomi-Ann Roberts’ and Dr. Christina Donaldson’s videos on our resource page.
There aren’t that many “clean” songs out there these days – won’t we all be using the same music?
It’s true that lots of the popular music today contains profanity, sexualized lyrics and references to drinking, drugs and violence. This can make finding healthy music for your dancers more difficult. YPAD is committed to helping you by developing resources and relationships with groups who can make the music selection process easier. For example, please take a look at our curated list of age-appropriate music on Spotify, and check out our affiliates like Squirrel Trench music, which can edit music into a form that works for you. ypad4change.org/music
But my students want to become professional dancers – shouldn’t they be learning the sexualized dance moves that music video choreographers use… or learn to dance in heels so they’ll know how later on?
- Not all professional dancing jobs require sexualized movement. In addition, most of the sexualized movement we see adults doing in music videos, award shows, etc., require a solid foundation of technique, which is where we should be focusing our educational efforts with children. Dancing in heels does not need to equate to sexualized movement but all too often that is the trend. We are not referring to character shoes.
- There’s also a risk of physical injury. Children’s muscular and skeletal systems are not fully developed and dancing in high heels creates the same risks as putting a child on point in ballet too soon.
- For children who are preparing to enter into the professional dance world, it is crucial they are aware of their worth as humans so they can advocate for themselves. Exploitation in the dance world comes in many forms, whether it be dancing on concrete without hazard pay, being paid below Dancers’ Alliance rates, or being sexually harassed on set.
- Staying healthy as an adult in the professional dance industry requires a strong self-esteem and the ability to enforce safe boundaries. We can help children build these skills now by teaching them that it is okay to act their age, to advocate for themselves, and that they should never compromise their physical, emotional or sexual well-being for any job.
Who is Leslie Scott?
Leslie Scott is well known not only for her talents but her unwavering work ethic, inspiring public speaking, contagious positive energy and bold use of movement to spread a positive message! She is on Faculty at the Edge Performing Arts and Millennium Dance Complex, guest faculty on several conventions and is represented by the agency McDonald Selznick Association (MSA) in Hollywood, California. Leslie is the Founder of the non-profit “Youth Protection Advocates in Dance” (YPAD) whose Mission is to build empowered dance communities through education and activism and stop all exploitation of children in performing arts and keep youth happy, healthy and safe in dance. She also founded the E.D.I.F.Y. Movement, a division committed to using dance to highlight social causes and leads groups of young dancers to teach creative arts at local shelters and orphanages in Mexico and Africa. Leslie is a sought after Artistic Director/Choreographer and well known for the breakthroughs dancers experience in her inter-active seminar “Self-Esteem in Performing Arts” as well as her seminars for parents and educators. Leslie and her team at YPAD/EDIFY have developed the first-of-its kind Dance Education Certification that focuses on the psychological, physical and sexual safety of children and teens in the arts. She has been teaching for 27 years and has been instructed in 22 countries and 48 states to spread her unique teaching methods, artistry and teaching the ideology of “Spirit Swag”, a term Leslie coined to give value to the style of a person’s heart and character, not just their talent, aesthetics, fashion, popularity, social media presence or ability to follow trends in culture. She has traveled the country week after week with her Purpose Partner and amazing husband Joseph and her lil toddler Carmella to share the YPAD education with the dance community. Recently, she has presented YPAD/EDIFY at Pulse and Camp Pulse, Dance Educators of America, Dance Teacher Web and was the keynote speaker at The National Honor Society in Dance Arts in Boca Raton, Colorado’s Hip-Hop Madness and Studio Owner University in Las Vegas. She is a contributing writer to More Than Dancers and the American Psychological Association’s Psychology Benefits Society sharing her cutting edge research linking several Psychological Effects on the identity and brain wiring of Performing Artists who are not mindfully processing the potential consequences of today’s Dance Culture and Entertainment/Social Media on Self-Esteem and Identity. Leslie is a Dance Activist!
During Leslie’s commercial career she has worked with Beyonce, Ciara, Hi-Hat, Jermaine Jackson and Choreographed Brittany N’s video “We’re Beautiful” and has been featured at The Carnival’s Choreographer’s Ball 22 times including the sought after, invite only, Anniversary Show seven times. She has been a featured choreographer on two seasons of the web series Wallbreakers. The Industry Voice Awards in Hollywood has nominated her twice for “ Best Class of the Year” and “Artist of the Year” for her Humanitarian work with E.D.I.F.Y. Movement. Leslie was featured in Nylon Magazine as one of America’s leading forces in Hip-Hop and quoted in Dance Spirit magazine regarding appropriate facials for young dancers. She was selected as a judge for USA Hip-Hop International Championships hosted by the creators of Americas Best Dance Crew and Hip-Hop International. She is a certified Life Coach through Chonique Sneed and Lisette Bustamante’s Creating Opportunities and was honored to present their seminar “Performing Like a Pro” at the Monsters dance convention in Los Angeles. Leslie also designed a clothing line with inspirational quotes in dance and life called Groove Gear: Wear the Message, BE the Message!
As a professional dancer Leslie experienced hypersexualization, sexism and sexual harassment within the professional setting. For many years she played into the pervasive messaging that objectification was empowerment. When she shed that myth, Leslie made a commitment that all aspects of her artistry would be a powerful representation of a human’s value and worth. As she witnessed consequences in her young students, she became increasingly concerned with the dance industries’ normalization and encouragement of superimposing hypersexuality and the glorification of celebrity on very young dancers. This journey led to her current purpose to educate and activate the global dance community to embrace young dancers from a Holistic perspective!
Leslie is well respected in her industry and uses dance as a vehicle to help her students, dance parents and clients reach their full potential as whole beings in a complex dance culture and world. Leslie believes dance and music has a powerful influence over our greater culture and has the power to heal and unite our communities when used with positive intent and integrity!
How can I help?
There are so many ways you can help YPAD! Our power comes from the commitment of many—studio owners, instructors, parents, teen and child dancers and all who care about creating positive, safe, healthy dance environments free from exploitation and commodification. Please join with us in using dance to empower our community and teach youth to advocate for themselves.
MEMBERSHIP: The easiest way to support our cause is by becoming a YPAD MEMBER! Members make a significant difference in helping us help kids and teens stay safe in dance. Your tax-deductible membership gift will be put to immediate use in many urgent advocacy, outreach and education initiatives. You receive discounts from our growing list of affiliate vendors and have access to our distance learning webinars, discounts on services, certification and more! Visit YPAD4change.org/membership for details.
Other ways to get involved with YPAD include:
- Volunteering: We have a wide variety of volunteering opportunities, ranging from outreach, project management, newsletter production, assisting in social media communication to fundraising and participation in one of our advisory panel groups. If you have the will and skills to help us, we’d love to hear from you. email@example.com
- Certification: YPAD’s first-of-its-kind certification program is described above in these FAQs.
- Sponsorship: Do you have a business, non-profit, goods or services with a message and purpose that aligns with YPAD’s? If you do and are interested in obtaining a Y.P.A.D. endorsement for your convention, conference, studio, business, goods or services, please contact us regarding potential cross marketing opportunities. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Where do my Donations and Membership Funds Go?
YPAD is a Los Angeles-based, grass-roots non-profit that relies heavily on in-kind and monetary donations and volunteer hours. Please know that we do not work with donation solicitors to raise funds and our operational model is bare bones.
In spite of all this, YPAD still has operating expenses (like printing, travel and transportation, technology and marketing). We try hard to keep these costs as low as possible, but they exist. YPAD relies on financial support from the Membership program and sponsorships to fund them. More importantly, though, your Membership dollars provide critical support for YPAD’s programming and outreach efforts, which include:
Interactive Seminars for children and teens, parents, dance teachers and dance professionals, including the popular “Self-Esteem and Identity in Performing Arts Seminar” for youth dancers. Thanks to financial support from the Membership program and donations, YPAD has been able to present many of these seminars at no cost or on a sliding scale basis.
Social Media Fasts – Youth who participate in YPAD’s “Self-Esteem and Identity in Performing Arts Seminars” are invited to participate in a three-day long social media “fast” under the direct supervision of YPAD founder Leslie Scott, during which Leslie personally guides, supports and encourages the participants to separate themselves from the pull of social media and instead to re-connect with family, friends and themselves. Your membership dollars support the infrastructure and staff hours needed to organize and implement these social media fasts.
Website and Online Resources –Your Membership dollars help YPAD maintain and expand its website, a one-of-a-kind portal for information and resources ranging from videos from industry leaders on the sexualization of our youth dancers, information on injury prevention, child and teen self-esteem issues, and YPAD’s extensive “Standards Recommendations and Suggestions” which provide education and tools to dance professionals, educators and parents on music, costuming, movement and social media choices.
Online Learning Opportunities – Membership funds help underwrite YPAD’s free and low-cost online learning videoconferences on subjects like injury prevention, sexual abuse prevention and reporting, healthy social media usage, etc.
Outreach and Dance Community Support – YPAD staff and volunteers spend thousands of hours online and in person every year raising awareness on the issues of hypersexualization, child sexual abuse, dance injury risks, self-esteem, and the impact of social media on our youth dancers. In addition, YPAD representatives provide free one-on-one coaching and support to dance community members on concerns ranging from studio owner-employee conflicts, concerns regarding eating disorders, and questions on sexual abuse reporting and survivor assistance. Support from the Membership program makes YPAD’s outreach and community support efforts possible.
If you have been through YPAD’s Parenting Seminar, you know the dangers and effects of social media and the internet can have on your children, here are further resources available to help you navigate the mass of media your children are exposed to daily.
FBI Talks about Online Safety
Provides education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children.
Dept. of Justice- FBI Parents Guide to Internet Safety
Makes the online world safer for kids and their families through enlightened public policy, industry best practice and good digital parenting.
internetsafety101.org -The nation’s leading Internet safety organization
Learn important information about the online sexual exploitation of children.
Computer and Smart Phone Filters
Effective ways to monitor your children’s media and communications.
Dance Trends: The Potential Harms of Tricks and Hypermobility for Youth in Dance
Please see this great presentation called: The Psychological Effect of Dance Injuries by Emily Poirier:
Music Messaging Matters
See why what we dance to and listen to has a profound affect on our lives.
Nutrition for our bodies is as important as training.
Please visit our special Nutrition Page for more details and recent blogs by our nutrition specialist!
Resources and Links:
mayoclinic.org/healthy – lifestyle (Daily guidelines for girls and boys)
Resources for Parents
For our children and teens to stay safe in dance, we need to make sure our physical environments are safe, as well. This includes our dance studios and the areas around our studio, performance venues, competition and convention sites, as well as any shared transportation and any other place where dance professionals have responsibility for their students.
Creating safe dance environments means that we, as dance professionals, must recognize the situations and behaviors that create unsafe environments. It also means that we remain committed to making any change necessary to ensure our dancers’ safety. And it means that we need to make choices based on the safety and best interests of our children and teens first, above our own personal and organizational best interests.
YPAD Sex Abuse Webinar-Child Sex Abuse Prevention: Keeping our Kids Safe in Dance
We wish it didn't happen. It does. Here is a hand to hold on to.
The Effects of Social Media
Social Media is a vital part of our daily lives. Research shows that too much social media can actually change the way we think about ourselves and others. The YPAD Seminar for Teens on Self Esteem covers this intensely, because it is truly important to understand. Below are resources and articles discussing more.
Some responses and statistics from our evidence based research
“Socioscience has a lot of research that proves if we allow music to filter in the background and listen to music over and over in class or rehearsal without mindfully understanding the content it actually has a more negative effect on us than if we actually listened to it understanding the meaning of the lyrics and storyline.” – Tomi-Ann Roberts, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at Colorado College
YPAD surveyed Youth regarding what the music used in their dance classes teaches them. Here are some answers:
- “Men cheat and lie.” Female, age 14
- “Being a Boss and a B***H is a good thing.” Female, age 12
- “It is not cool to like a girl for her personality but more if she is hot.” Male, age 16
- “Hip-Hop is mean and dirty.” Female, age 7
- “Being single means I should be lonely or maybe no one likes me enough to be their girlfriend.” Female, age 10
- “I saw a very upsetting video to one of our competition songs that exposed women in horrible ways and it made me feel very scared for our society.” Female, age 13
- “When I was little my teacher called my class sassy jazz but now that I’m older I think sassy just means sexy because many songs we dance to actually say to be sexy.” Female, age 14
- “A lot of the songs we use for competition make partying in the club and even violence and girls hating girls seem normal and okay.” Female, age 16
- “A lot of the songs I dance to on stage make me “the man” who always gets all the girls attention.” Male, age 9
- “The music, choreography and costumes at my studio can sometimes make me feel like I am not pretty or skinny or sexy enough.” Female, age 12
- “Apparently it’s not enough for a song to have a good beat or even for the music to tell a story with no words at all, it seems like for a dance combo to go viral or even just be “a cool dance” or “to win at competitions” there has to be a specific “party, sex or negative stereotypes” message with the words to the song.” Female, age 12
Out of 143 dancers Y.P.A.D. surveyed aged 7-13, 87% of them look at the music videos to the songs they hear at their dance studios and only 6% ask parental permission before doing so.
Teens spend about 9 hours a day on media! – www.commonsensemedia.com
Y.P.A.D. surveyed 312 dancers aged 12-17 from 2013 through 2015:
When asked which pictures/videos received the most attention, the top four answers were:
2.) Duck Lips/Trout Pouts
3.) Pics/Videos with Famous Choreographers
4.) Acro Dance/Tricks
When asked how social media affects their body image, the top four answers were:
1.) I am more self-conscious about my body, talent and fashion.
2.) I find myself comparing my “look” and body to others more.
3.) I notice more flaws on my face.
4.) I have started skipping meals and dieting.
When asked to share what leads to positive emotions on social media, the top three answers were:
1.) I feel good when people like my pictures and posts.
2.) I feel popular when people follow me.
3.) I feel good when I get tagged.
When asked if they had witnessed dance related Cyberbullying: (Definition used from stopcyberbullying.org)
When asked to pick which category they witnessed the most Cyberbullying in:
1.) Negative comments about body, weight, face: 113/36%
2.) Putting down someone’s dance talent: 107/34%
3.) How many followers they have: 41/13%
4.) Negative comments about Faith, Ethnicity or Sexual Orientation: 30/10%
4.) Making up rumors or false accounts in their name: 21/7%
When asked if they have ever seen anything online that scared them:
When asked if they told an adult:
YPAD asked if they had ever witnessed or been a victim of Cyberbullying and to please explain. Here are some quotes:
“I was told by people at my studio I thought were friends I looked fat dancing in a video I posted. They told me to go on a diet and I would get more followers.” Female, age 13
“I had an adult male post a winkie face and a comment on one of my dance pictures saying I was sexy and then he private messaged me.” Female, age 12
“I was the victim of someone creating a fake account and using my name to bully someone at my dance studio that I was friends with. It ruined my life and our friendship.” Male, age 16
“I like to posts videos of me dancing on my Instagram but so many people told me I sucked and had bad skin I took it down. I feel really insecure now.”
“A group of girls at my studio started doing Snapchats where we flash our chests and I feel really scared and ashamed about it.” Female, 15
“A group of girls and one boy from a competing studio saw me at a competition and spread rumors I had a boob job and posted it online. They took photos of me on stage and put them up. I did not have a boob job but developed really early. They called me a slut. It has been awful and I feel embarrassed in my dance costumes and dropped out of competition.” Female, age 14
“One of the older boys at my studio took a picture of me in the dressing room with my shirt off at competition and posted it on Instagram making fun of the fact I don’t have ripped abs or chest hair. It was very embarrassing. He took it down once my mom got involved.” Male, age 13
“I am a different Faith then most of the people at my studio and they do not invite me to sleep overs or get together and I always see pics on Instagram. I finally asked one of the girls that I have been friends with since I was 7 why I don’t get invited and she said the girl who is the most popular and the group leader said it is because I will go to hell because I am not Christian and I am not a good enough dancer to invite.” Female, age 16
“I came out as Gay last year. A small group of dancers at the studio that go to my school started to harass me and call me names and spread awful rumors about me. They started making memes about me and posting them online. Coming to the studio is torture at times but I love dance too much to quit.” Male, age 17
“A group of students started a thread where they tagged every girl at the studio who had the perfect “ballet body” and “good feet”. I didn’t get tagged.” Female, age 12
Direct quotes from participants in the YPAD Self-Esteem Seminars during the Social Media Module:
“Social media has made me see my flaws through a huge magnifying glass.” – Female, age 16
“Social media has made dancing for some girls about twerking and being half-dressed and for guys you’re cool only if you do the popular moves. I want to change this.” – Male, age 15
“I feel a lot of pressure to be hot and skinny. I do compare my body to celebrity dancers online.” – Female, age 12
“My teachers tell me to tone down my dancing because they say it is too sexy but I do not think they get how many compliments I get at school and online because of it.” – Female, age 14
“Social media can affect who becomes a glorified dancer even as a kid, even if the technique and dance skills aren’t there or as good as other kid dancers” – Female, age 12