Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hazing Gone Seriously Wrong

This past weekend a story broke about a high school football team in New Jersey where a disturbing hazing incident took place. The alleged hazing involved wrestling a nude 9th grade player, fresh from the showers,  to the floor, while a fellow player digitally penetrated his anus. Sorry if you are reading this with your morning coffee. Disgusting, humiliating. This is not hazing, this is sexual assault.

I know boys will be boys, but really! The school superintendent has suspended the entire team from play and the football season is now over for this team. They are investigating not only this incident but the culture of athletic and activities of the entire system.

I feel bad for everyone. I feel terrible for the victims who were underclassman, who must have been elated to make the varsity team,  and looked forward to playing for their high school team. Now that has all been tainted. I feel bad for the senior boys who were responsible for the hazing. I truly believe that they really didn't didn't think there was anything that wrong with what they were doing. After all, in their minds, they are probably thinking: "it's not like anyone got hurt! Their lives will be forever effected."

Who I feel no sympathy for are the coaches, and the staff  and maybe even the parents whose kids are on the team. Somewhere along the line, these kids are just not getting the message that hazing is serious business. Hazing, in this case, was not only physically damaging, but it sure as hell is psychologically damaging. When someone, especially a teenager, who is literally at the most psychologically vulnerable time of their life is humiliated in front of their peers, it can do real harm. I get that teenagers don't get this and don't understand this. But the adults do need to get it.

If you have a son or daughter who is on a sports team or a cheer leading squad it is your job to talk about this issue with them. You might tell them about this incident, and then say: " I get that upperclassmen/women feel sometimes that it is their right to "induct" new team member into the team through some traditional rights of passage. Unfortunately those "rights of passage" are illegal if they humiliate or put someone's safety at risk.  This is serious stuff, and I know you might be in a situation someday where you will be the subject of or be asked to be the perpetrator of hazing. Lets figure out what you can do, should you ever find yourself in this situation."

Though all schools now have very strict rules and regulations about hazing, I don't think the communicating part to the kids is happening. This is where you come in. Never expect that someone else will take care of it. Take care of it yourself!

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