the blame game
[Previous discussion on this story here]
One of the Mepham High School football players accused of sexually assaulting younger teammates during a football camp was warned by the principal and coach before the trip not to harass other players, school officials and a parent said Friday.
Unfortunately, this will give plenty of opportunity for people to blame the school instead of the kids who actually performed the "hazing" and the kids who watched and said nothing.
Let's look at the factors here:
- One of the younger players was threatened before the trip actually took place. The parents of that boy told the principal about the threat.
- One of the attackers had previous discipline problems in school and had been suspended more than once.
- A parent complained in July that the older kids on the team were verbally abusing the younger players.
- School administrators met with one of the accused players before the camp trip, telling him he better behave; this indicates prior knowledge of the kid's behavior problems.
We can conclude from this that the school is partly to blame for some of what went on. I question the school's policy of actually letting this kid participate in the sports program when he has been suspended before and was obviously a discipline problem. I also fault the school for not addressing the whole team and parents at a meeting before the camp was to take place on the issues of expected behavior and to give guidelines as to what would happen should the expected behavior not be adhered to.
However, this does not let anyone else off the hook and I fear that the lawsuits will start flying now, accusing the school of allowing the camp to take place in an atmosphere rife with fear and abusive behavior.
Several players witnessed the alleged attacks and others have said word of them spread quickly through the camp, although no one told the coaches.
"They're trying to blame the kids," another parent said, "and they were afraid because these kids were still walking around in school."
See? Immediately the blame shifts. The kids aren't to blame, the school is!
The fault for this whole episode begins with the parents of the accused players, for raising kids who think that they have the right to do this to people; the attackers themselves; the kids who watched and said nothing; the kids who found out later, knowing who the attackers were, and still said nothing; and the school for allowing a serious discipline problem to go unchecked and permitting this previously suspended football player to go on a school-sanctioned trip.
Just watch. The next few articles about this incident will center totally around the school's guilt in the matter. It will mention lawsuits, court injuctions to get the football season back and there will be at least one parent quoted as saying "boys will be boys."
Said one parent: "There were a lot of people involved in the intimidation besides the perpetrators." Absolutely, and they should all be held accountable. But the perpetrators, once enough people come forward to identify them, should be held on criminal charges and made to face the legal consequences that come with raping someone. Playing football should be the least of their worries right now.
They would do best to remember that three New York City police officers went to jail for doing the very same thing.
With all the various aspects and scenarios of this incident, I'm left with one recurring thought: How does a kid get to that point where he thinks that he has the right to do something like this? How was he raised, and what leads him to believe that raping a school mate with various objects is just hazing or playing around? How much are the parents to blame here?
I have no answers, I don't suspect anyone will. It's just mind boggling.