There are many ways to celebrate a child’s “coming of age”. In the United States and Canada, young girls have a “Sweet Sixteen” party to celebrate their progress into womanhood. In Latin cultures a girls fifteenth birthday is celebrated with a “Quinceanera”. Jewish girls have a “Bat Mitzvah” at twelve and boys a “Bar Mitzvah” at thirteen. Christian children, both boys and girls, celebrate when they reach the age of spiritual maturity (usually thirteen or fourteen) with the “Sacrament of Confirmation. Young Filipino girls have a “Debut” at eighteen. Chinese girls celebrate “Ji Li” at fifteen and boys a “Guan Li” at age twenty. In many other countries it’s common to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of both boys and girls as this is the time when they become of “legal age”.
At each of these celebrations, parents use their judgment and a reliance on family history or tradition when deciding how to celebrate the passing of their child into adulthood. Some have small family gatherings and others a formal ball. The possibilities are endless.
New York mother, Judy Viger, chose to hire strippers for her son’s sixteenth birthday party last November. Why she made this decision remains unclear but, four months later, she has been arrested and charged with five counts of endangering the welfare of a child. She now faces up to a year in prison if convicted.
Viger hired two strippers, who reportedly performed lap dances on the birthday boy and other underage guests, to entertain at the party which took place in a private room at a local bowling alley. Approximately eighty people attended the party, including a thirteen-year-old and many adults who later said they were outraged at the sexually charged performances.
Not surprisingly, photos from the party made their way online and the mother of a fifteen-year-old who attended the party saw them on her son’s Facebook page. She contacted police who then interviewed guests of the party.
“The charges stem from an allegation that she endangered not only the welfare of her own child, but the welfare of the 14- and 15-year-old children that were at the birthday party as well.” – Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy
The company providing the “intimate dancers”, Tops In Bottoms, alleges that the dancers were unaware that the kids at the party were underage and that the incident was being blown out of proportion. The company has cooperated fully with the investigation and does not face any charges. The bowling alley, on the other hand, is being scrutinized by the state liquor authority for having alcohol on the premises during the party.
Personally, I think Viger used poor judgment when she included the underage children in her son’s celebration without their parents’ consent. Charges of “endangering the welfare of a child”, however, are ludicrous.
What do you think about strippers at a sixteen-year-old’s birthday party?
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