Concert safety: From language to dress to mosh pits, parents have a little homework to do

By Caitlin Orton and Hillary Bowler

Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Sept. 1 2011 5:00 p.m. MDT

Fans form a mosh pit during the Warped Tour at the Utah State Fairpark in 2009.

Brendan Sullivan, Deseret News

On a scorching day in Chicago, Utah State University graduate Cody Titmus was bouncing around in the crowd as Santigold performed on stage.

He thought the music was exceptional, but the heat was blistering. With a mass of people in close proximity, conditions became so unbearable that some crowd members threw up.

Then things turned nasty.

"Some would keep circling the vomit and then some got in there and started throwing it," Titmus said.

It was a bizarre scene, but parents who are deciding whether to allow their child to attend a concert should expect to confront some uncomfortable — even stomach-churning — issues.

Mosh pits. Physical assault. Sexual harassment. Alcohol abuse. Depending on the venue and the artist, the concert scene presents concerns that range from a teen's physical safety to types of behaviors some parents would rather not have their children exposed to, such as cursing and inappropriate dress.

While teenagers and young adults relish the bands and concert-crowd experience, parents have some homework to do in order to make informed choices and increase the odds of their children having a safe and positive experience.

"Expect the unexpected," Titmus said.

The 'unexpected'

The concert experience can be as varied as the artists themselves and the venue they play in — whether it's Enya or Ke$ha.

Brady Bingham, a Syracuse resident and writer for the Ogden Standard-Examiner, has seen his fair share of oddities over his 30 years of attending concerts.

"From the big hair and wild makeup of the '80s bands, the cowboy hats and boots at country bands, to the girlish screams at Justin Bieber, that is all part of the fun," he said.

But some concert experiences are anything but laughable.

David Castillo, a 22-year-old USU student, has seen young women being groped at many concerts. If a girl goes crowd surfing, she's considered "free game" by the crowd, Castillo says.

"People will make the excuse that 'the girl landed on me and I had to keep her from the ground,'" he said. "I always go to a concert and see one man's hand — every show — going for the girl's chest, every time."

He suggested that girls attend concerts with a companion who can help keep men they don't know from taking advantage of them.

Profane language is also something that can surprise concertgoers. Castillo used the All-American Rejects as an example, saying that the band used the f-word left and right even though they don't use that word on their albums.

Sydney Tycksen, a 20-year-old Southern Utah University student and avid concertgoer, says she's seen a lot of illegal drugs and alcohol at concerts.

"Concerts don't necessarily advertise or allow drugs and alcohol, but kids are already involved in that," she said. Despite rules and regulations, a lot of kids are introduced to substances in the atmosphere of concerts, Tycksen says.

Kathryn Sorber, a mother and musician originally from Utah who lives in Lewisburg, W.Va., says that while language and drug use may be an issue at some concerts, she's more concerned about her children witnessing the all-around "loose" behavior of the audience, even at concerts for artists she considers to be safe for her kids to listen to.

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