This week, the arrest of seven Sayreville football players charged in connection with a series of hazing incidents and alleged sexual assaults has dominated national news while the horrific details of the allegations have prompted a review of school districts have been responding to hazing and bullying, according to Acting state Education Commissioner David Hespe.
Studies show that hazing (any action or situation, with or without the consent of the participants, which recklessly, intentionally, or unintentionally endangers the mental, physical, or academic heath or safety of a student) is experiened by nearly half (47%) of students prior to coming to college.
The situation in Sayreville has raised awareness of hazing and calls into question what polices schools have in place to prevent it. It has also prompted the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletics Association to review its rules on hazing and expand its education programs addressing the issue.
NJ Advance is reporting today that the Sayreville coach was unaware of incidents occurring in the locker room, according to players, until a meeting he had with them on October 1.
Montclair School Superintendent Penny MacCormack says she has been in touch with Montclair High School Principal James Earle, both recently and in the past regarding the issue of adequate supervision. “Mr. Earle has a very good handle on the athletic program at the high school and works closely with Jeff Gannon, the athletic director, but yes, we did have a conversation again after learning about Sayreville to check in.”
“We are very attuned and aware of making sure we have the supervision necessary,” says MacCormack, adding that systems have been in place for a long time and that both the principal and the athletic director continue to be very diligent.
MacCormack says she has not received many calls from parents. “I think it’s testament to what we have been doing that we haven’t had a flurry of parent concerns after Sayreville,” says MacCormack.
Communication is key for both parents and students, as well as school administration and staff, to prevent hazing. To stop the cycle, it’s important for parents to have a dialogue with children and teens so they understand what hazing is and that they know hazing isn’t something they have to endure or remain silent about — especially if it’s something they observe. The New York Times is encouraging students to comment on How Should Schools Respond to Hazing Incidents.
In the hazing cycyle, the victim usually becomes the bystander, and the bystander becomes the perpetrator, according to Susan Lipkins, author of Preventing Hazing. In the case of Sayreville, there has been speculation that there was a tradition of hazing and that the alleged perpetrators of these acts had previously been victims.
At a vigil on Sunday in Sayreville, a crowd of 300 people came out to show support for the four victims. Let us know in comments how you are talking to your children about this issue.