A skit at a local Christian youth group meeting had teenage boys taking off some of their clothes, wearing adult diapers, bibs and bonnets and being spoon-fed by girls as they sat in their laps.
Some say it's just crazy, goofy teenage fun. But others, including one boy's mother and the Mt. Lebanon School District, aren't comfortable with it.
The skit took place during the Nov. 29 meeting of the Mt. Lebanon Young Life club, a nondenominational Christian youth group directed by youth minister O.J. Wandrisco.
Laurie Metz, whose 14-year-old son was one of the boys who took part in the skit, said she found it inappropriate, demeaning and sexually perverse.
Mr. Wandrisco and a national spokesman for Young Life say the skits are all in fun and meant to be used as "icebreakers" at the youth group meetings.
"The skits are designed for one reason and one reason only -- for kids to have fun. It's not a dirty joke. The skits are to break down the walls and let them have fun," Mr. Wandrisco said.
Ms. Metz reported her concerns to the Mt. Lebanon Police Department and Mt. Lebanon High School Principal Ronald Davis on Nov. 30. On Thursday, she and her son filed a formal complaint with the police, who interviewed the teenage boy about the incident.
While police found nothing criminal about the incident, public information officer Lt. Ken Truver said the department will forward its report and findings to the Allegheny County district attorney for review.
Mt. Lebanon School District yesterday released a statement saying that Mt. Lebanon Young Life is not a school-sponsored activity, that Dr. Davis has been in contact with police over the incident and that the club would not be permitted to use meeting space at the school.
Ms. Metz said at the Nov. 29 Young Life meeting, after her son and two other boys were selected to take part in the skit, they were taken to a rest room by an older teen and given adult diapers, bibs and bonnets and directed to take their clothes off and put the diapers, bibs and bonnets on. Her son took off his pants, but kept on boxer undershorts, his shirt, shoes and socks.
The boys returned to the group, where they were asked to sit in the laps of three girls. The girls spoon-fed baby food to the boys and then gave them baby bottles filled with soda pop. The first boy to finish was the winner.
"The whole premise of the skit is questionable," Ms. Metz said. "I see no purpose that it would serve, especially not in a Christian youth group setting. It's perverse."
She said even if there is no police action taken, she felt it important to speak out so that other parents know what goes on at the meetings. She said at an earlier meeting girls ate jelly beans in chocolate pudding out of adult diapers.
Mr. Wandrisco, in an interview, acknowledged that the Nov. 29 skit had taken place as Ms. Metz described and that the group had also participated at an earlier date in the skit that involved eating chocolate pudding out of diapers.
He said the skits were not done to demean anyone. "It was just a shot at humor," he said.
He said no one was forced to participate or to take off any article of clothing at the Nov. 29 meeting, and that he believed Ms. Metz's son had fun participating in it.
Mr. Wandrisco said he has worked with the Mt. Lebanon Young Life group for eight years and has used the skits in the past. His organization has an office on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon.
He said he spoke with Ms. Metz, apologized to her and invited her to meet with him and his local board members.
Ms. Metz said she wasn't interested in a meeting with Young Life officials and instead went to the police.
Lt. Truver said police found nothing criminal in connection with the skit.
"Her 14-year-old son told us he participated in an activity completely voluntary in nature and that he had fun with it and that there was no coercion and our position is that while the activities may be somewhat unorthodox depending on your perception, there's nothing to indicate that any crime occurred," he said.
Ms. Metz said she was disappointed with the police response, but encouraged that the district attorney would review the information.
Terry Swenson, national vice president of communications for Young Life, said that skits that involve teens dressing like an infant are among those used by the organization, which has existed for 60 years.
He declined to comment on the Mt. Lebanon teens being asked to undress before they put on the diapers and bibs or whether he thought the Mt. Lebanon skit was appropriate.
"We are careful in trying to not embarrass kids and put them in awkward situations." he said.
He said his organization "gives its full support" to Mr. Wandrisco.
"O.J. has been there for a long time. He is a trusted person in the community who has the kids' best interests in mind," Mr. Swenson said.
Mary Niederberger can be reached at email@example.com or 412-851-1512.