I am continuously amazed at the growing number of "hazing" incidents reported in the news involving high school and college students. Where did young people learn that it is acceptable to beat the crap out of a fellow student?
The latest case comes from something called "Freshman Beat Down Day" in Sandwich, Mass. A high school freshman suffered a ruptured spleen, and nine high school football players have been charged with assault and battery and hazing.
How can this happen? I understand the probability of a bully wanting to show he's tough and beat up another kid, but of those nine boys in Massachusetts, I find it very hard to believe that not one of them knew that what they were doing was wrong.
Could not one of those nine boys protested the act or told an adult? Did not one of those nine boys think they might get in trouble with the school or with their parents?
It seems we always point the finger at the parents. But guess what? They're the ones responsible for their children's behavior. Sure, occasionally a child who is raised by wonderful, loving parents makes a bad decision and does something of which his parents wouldn't approve. But for the most part, young people do what they see their parents doing and behave in the ways they see their parents behaving. Each one of those nine kids should have been scared to death of facing their fathers when they went home from Freshman Beat Down Day.
I hesitate to write on this subject because I'm sure some parents may find it offensive that I sit here and judge, giving my advice when I've never been a parent myself. I couldn't possibly understand the stress and responsibility that comes with such a job. That's true, but I can still have an opinion, and I think bad parenting is pretty obvious, even to the untrained eye.
Now that this Massachusetts hazing case is making headlines, it might be a good idea for parents to sit down with their kids and make sure they understand that hazing is a crime, and people get hurt. If the issue isn't addressed at all, children will be more prone to following the crowd of friends that's engaging in this bad behavior.
Sometimes kids don't understand the severity of what they're doing, or the severity of the consequences when they get caught. Perhaps this knowledge would keep them from doing it in the first place. It's worth a try.
April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .