AngiePen (angiepen) wrote,

It's the Adults Who Need the Lessons

Check out this article about a hazing incident on a high school football team in New Mexico. The kids were at a training camp when some of the older players decided that it'd be fun and cool to rape six of the younger players with a broomstick. Just a bunch of clean-cut American kids, I'm sure. And I'll bet that if you asked them, they'd all say they love Jesus, too.

What's really outrageous, though, was how the coaches and staff handled this.

According to a state police report, an assistant coach told the other coaches during training camp "that some sort of hazing incident involving broomsticks was happening." Another coach walked into a cabin to see "a player on his stomach on the ground, with his legs spread open," while a teammate held a broomstick, the police report said. The coach told the players to "cut it out" and the group broke up.

"Cut it out?" That's it? He finds a kid on his stomach with his legs spread, and an older kid standing over him with a broomstick, and he thinks an appropriate response is "Cut it out?" O_O He didn't question them, didn't pull the kid with his legs spread aside to find out what'd happened, didn't even confiscate the freaking broom?

Rick Romero, the school superintendent, said that the coaches thought "they had intervened in time to stop a hazing incident." Umm, based on what, exactly? If they didn't talk to anyone, how did they know?

I could see them taking about this level of action if they'd found someone covered in ketchup, or saw some wet towels being snapped, or something on that level. That's stupid shit, but it's basically harmless. But when one kid has his legs spread and the other is holding a broomstick, this is very obviously not minor and not harmless and I can't imagine how anyone with a brain wouldn't figure out that it warrants a bit of investigation.

It gets better.

That afternoon, according to the police report, head coach Ray Woods called the players together and told them that if any hazing was going on, it needed to stop.

When Woods asked if anyone had been violated, one 15-year-old player raised his hand. But before the boy could elaborate, other players began making jokes, the report said. Several coaches told investigators that because of the laughter from the players, they didn't believe the allegations were serious and took no further action.

WTF?! Number one, where was this guy's brain stashed that he honestly believed that calling for victims to Raise Their Hands in a group of peers which included their rapists was a good idea? (And since he asked who'd been "violated," I'd say he had a pretty clear picture of what had happened and that he knew it was something which would be deeply painful and humiliating for the victims.) I'm surprised that that one 15-year-old kid had the guts to admit it -- kudos to him -- and not at all shocked that none of the others raised their hands.

Number two, if the coach was going to ask the question in the first place, what made him ignore the answer? The fact that a bunch of the other boys laughed? A man who's worked with teenagers for however many years doesn't know that yeah, there are teenage fuckwads out there who think it's hilarious when they hurt someone? Not that it's only teenagers who do this, but some people who aren't exposed to kids on a regular basis tend to forget what some of them are like and have this rose-colored fantasy image of what kids are capable of. Someone who works with high school kids daily should have no such delusions.

So he exposes this kid to further mockery and humiliation, then dismisses his claim and (presumably) leaves him alone once again with his peer group, the boys who have been so kind and understanding toward him already. Lovely.

The only reason the police got involved was because a woman who worked at the camp as a volunteer heard about the incident. Her husband was a state cop and she let him know what was going on, and when the bus got back to school after the camp was over, there were cops waiting for them.

The superintendent said that the reason none of them called the police themselves was because they weren't sure what had happened. I call bullshit. The phrasing of the head coach's question, when he asked who'd been "violated," tells me that he knew exactly what had happened.

And I love this toward the end:

Romero said lessons about bullying - already a regular part of the elementary school curriculum - are planned with students at all grades. High school students will also learn about sexual harassment.

See, this is part of what the problem is. All kids know what bullying is, know that when some other kid hurts or humiliates you, that sucks and it's wrong. They know that -- whether it's happening to them or to a friend or whether they're the one doing it, they know it's wrong and the bullies do it anyway because they think they can get away with it.

The only possible good these "lessons" could do would be if they were in response to lessons given first to the teachers and staff about bullying, because apparently the adults have forgotten what it is and how to properly respond to it. The first lesson should be that when some kid says he's been "violated" -- especially if it was bad enough that he's willing to say so in front of all his teammates, including the ones who did it -- you don't assume he's lying just because a lot of the other kids are laughing. Once the adults know how to respond, then you can give the kids "lessons" about how they can feel safe going to the adults to tell them they've been bullied. Until the adults get their shit together about their response to the problem, all the lessons in the world won't do a thing to prevent the bullies from bullying.

"This was a very violent, very serious form of bullying," the superintendent said. "Until we do a better job of identifying and dealing with it, this is not going to be the last time we hear about it."

At least he's figured that much out.


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