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Dress to Impress – It’s the Law!

Angela Alfano
Staff Writer

Jessica O’Donnell

A common occurrence within society today is for the preceding generation to comment on the flaws of the succeeding generation. One of the more controversial issues pertaining to the current youth of America is the topic of kids who “sag.” Teenagers who “sag” wear their pants low enough to a point where their buttock is exposed.

There has been talk for a while about making it illegal for people to wear sagging clothes, but until this year, nothing had been set in stone. The General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts addresses “Crimes Against Chastity, Morality, Decency, and Good Order”–reading: “a man or woman, married or unmarried, who is guilty of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years or in jail for not more than two years or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars.”

In January, the Black Mental Health Alliance of Massachusetts launched a public service campaign warning teenagers about future fines and possible imprisonment due to “saggy” pants.

In the PSA created by the BMHAM, there is a male dressed in a police officer’s attire stating that in Boston, one can be fined $300 or imprisoned for a maximum of three years for wearing sagging pants. In Massachusetts, it is considered an obscene offense to dress inappropriately. As the officer in the campaign warns the teens to pull up their pants, he states “It’s the law!”

The PSA’s main focus was to let it be known that they want the youth to respect themselves, and respect their community. BMHAM, the association which released this PSA, shared that it is their belief that saggy pants heighten thug-like behavior and contribute to how young men are perceived and treated by police, teachers and other adults.

According to a February 2013 article by Meghan E. Irons in the Boston Globe, “Suffolk County prosecutors said the alliance is basing its premise on a loose interpretation of state law on open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior. They [Suffolk County prosecutors] say they would never press charges on anyone for what some consider a fashion faux pas.”

When informed of Massachusetts’s crack-down on saggy pants, freshman Kevin Guardia, an undecided major said, “I don’t even wear my pants like that but I think it’s crazy that the government is now trying to lock teenagers up for the way they wear their clothes. If prison is involved for some of these young kids, it will be on their record and follow them for the rest of their lives.”

When asked for an opinion on the new law, sophomore Melissa Weisman, a Film major, stated, “No, I do not agree with people wearing their clothes like that, but I do not think that it should be pushed to such an extreme like prison!”

Others strongly support the new law. Omar Reid, a 54-year-old education psychologist from Grove Hall who is helping to lead the ad campaign in Boston told the Boston Globe, “Our community and our people are tired of these kids walking around like this.”

In desperate attempts to expand their ad, the campaign against saggy pants spends an average of $2,000 a month on having the ad released in more areas. Reid stated in the article that they are not trying to single out teenagers. Their main focus is to get the youth to understand how critical of a role appearance and image play in life.

Many people can agree that they are tired of seeing the backsides of so many teenagers and young adults. However, can those people agree that putting these teens in prison is not going too far? Personally, I feel that the law is a bit extreme. Although I do not appreciate seeing young teens showing off their underwear, I do not think that they should pay such a large fine or be put in prison.

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