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the blame game

[Previous discussion on this story here]

Mepham: Athlete-Suspect Had History of Harassment

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.


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Comments

This is one of the most disturbing stories I have ever heard. There is so much punishment that needs to be dealt and you're right, a continuation of football season should be the least of their concerns. Oh, and one more thing,

rape=prison

That's an easy one. Those kids have to serve time. Period.

God! This story just enrages me!

And the parents of all these students?

They remain silent, and retain lawyers.

Sadly, I think Michele's prediction will come true. The pigs who did this will fade into the background as all of the fingers point at the school. The school isn't blameless - what was this creep doing there in the first place? If a kid has to be talked to by the principal BEFORE GOING TO A SUMMER CAMP, should anyone be surprised that this happens?

Could it be that they let his behavior slide a bit because of his football skills? Training for college, indeed!

WG, LI

I think that WG sees an underlying issue here:the main perp was allowed to participate because he was their key to a WINNING team.Someone ,including the parents and school,prioritized that goal above all else.Wads the lot of 'em.

Here's where I see this going, and as best as I can guess, the lawyers in the area are the only ones who are going to benefit.

Cases to be filed shortly in civil court:
1. Parents of the football team will sue the school board to have the season reinstated, claiming its violating their children's civil rights
2. If no charges are filed quickly, the parents of the victims will sue the parents of the perpetrators.
3. If charges are filed quickly, #2 will wait until these kids are found guilty in criminal court and the cases in civil court will go forward in OJ style
4. Parents of victims will then sue the school, claiming they should have prevented this; that the blame ultimately lies with them and they should be held accountable.

And it will go on from there. I, too, cannot understand how some kid thinks rape is something you can do to another person, male or female. I've seen this before: one fraternity at my college almost lost it's charter and was put on probation for doing the same sort of thing---only with carrots and peanut butter---to their pledges. A pledge complained, the school cracked down, the national fraternity cracked down---and they still got sued by the kids' parents. And one nice outcome: the pledge was offered bids at every other fraternity on campus because they didn't want him to feel as if he was an outcast. I don't think that will happen in this situation, unfortunately.

Hazing, by rights, is a concept employed to test someone: that if they can get through this, they can get through anything---or at least that's what the hazers' claim they're doing; it's also supposed to be a "bonding" thing. The definition of hazing we were told to follow was that it is anything that "makes someone uncomfortable": that can be anything from talking to someone, to handing a pledge a beer (you're making them think they have to drink to hang out with you) to physical assault. All sororities and fraternities have cracked down on hazing in the past fifteen years because they needed to as it was becoming impossible to insure local chapters. It's the same reason there are no keggers anymore at frat parties. Every member of the greek system is very careful these days not to do anything that might be construed as hazing.

I hate to say it, but when we proudly implemented our anti-hazing programs within the Greek system in the late 80's-early 90's, we never really counted on the fact our refusal to haze would result in a further spread of this crap into high schools. It seems that this is what has happened.

When they crack down on high schoolers, does this mean grade school is going to be the place for this sort of thing?

This is what happens when the concept of personal responsibility slides out of sight. The attackers can't be responsible, the parents of the attackers can't be responsible, the parents of the kids who knew and didn't tell can't be responsible, so it must be the school. I agree the school holds some responsibility, but the attackers need to be arrested and jailed. It's that simple. And I'm really sorry here, but the parents of the attackers need to be the ones who take their kids to the police and turn them in, AND they should be paying the medical bills for the kids who were attacked. Without being sued and without quibbling. But hey, that's just me.

More candidates for the slave pens of Mauritania.