28 Mar 2012

Children’s commissioner condemns ‘daggering’ dance

The office of the children’s commissioner condemns the sexual dance craze popular among young teenagers, following a Channel 4 News investigation into girl gangs. Paraic O’Brien reports.

Channel 4 News can reveal that a popular Caribbean dancing style used by adults, known as “daggering”, is sexualising the dance floors of a much younger generation. Teenagers as young as 11 are modelling sex acts and rape on the dance floor with their peers.

Deputy Children’s Commissioner Sue Berelowitz said: “there’s not a lot separating that kind of behaviour from actual violent, coercive sex.”

Footage seen by Channel 4 News shows an under-18s club night in East London. As with all under-18s club nights, everyone is between 11 and 16. Some of the children look much younger. The club is packed.

The music: Caribbean dancehall. The dancing style: daggering.

It is a style of dancing that any carnival regular will be used to. Aficionados will no doubt, have a more technical description of the style but it mainly involves women bending over and rubbing up against men’s crotches. During that August weekend in Notting Hill every adult gives it a go.

But what is different about this nightclub is that every child is giving it a go. Spurred on by the DJ, the “daggering” becomes more enthusiastic, some of it verging on violent. Boys and girls end up on top of each other on the floor simulating sex. Throughout the night someone employed by the club promoter is filming it all and uploading it onto the club’s website via YouTube.

Deputy Children’s Commissioner Sue Berelowitz speaks to Channel 4 News.

On the promoter’s website there’s a link to another similar film on YouTube from the same club night. When you click on that link, a message comes up saying “This video has been removed because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service”.

Channel 4 News has discovered that the police asked YouTube to remove this clip. The police found out it featured a young vulnerable girl who they deemed to be at risk of becoming involved with a street gang. The detective whose job it is to help prevent girls from becoming involved with gangs saw the clip and considered it so sexually exploitative she asked YouTube to take it down. We understand the video clip came close to a scene of simulated rape. The fear was that gang members would see it and try to take advantage of the young girl.

DCI Petrina Cribb from the Metropolitan Police told Channel 4 News: “some of the young people were very, very young and dressed in what I would consider to be an inappropriate way, very scantily clad and also dancing in a very, very sexually provocative manner, which is age inappropriate for them”.

She would not be drawn on the details of the particular girl she was worried about.

“Daggering” is a growing trend in night clubs across the UK. When children do it though, does it represent a new frontier in the sexualisation of childhood or just harmless cultural copycatting?

The children’s commissioners office for England is in little doubt. We showed the footage to the deputy children’s commissioner, Sue Berelowitz, who said: “I’m worried about this. It’s not just me being prudish. What concerns me is there’s not a lot separating that kind of behaviour from actual violent, coercive sex taking place.

“The thresholds for children around what’s acceptable; when they can say no; what consent means have shifted to such an extent that they no longer feel able to be in full control of their sexual lives.”