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“Not my kid, not my town, not my problem.”

A scandal is erupting in Rye, NY.  Last week, three high-school juniors were arrested for a hazing  incident involving several eight-grade students, one of whom was hurt so badly he ended up in the hospital.  All three are being charged as adults for hazing and unlawful imprisonment after brutally paddling the younger kids as part of a ritual.

Cellphone video captured the alleged incident where the three kidnapped several teens, forced them into a car and drove them to a wildlife conservancy. There they proceeded to “paddle the freshman  multiple times with a large piece of lumber, causing bruising and other injuries to their buttocks and legs,” police said.

While hazing in college is bad enough, hazing in high school?!  In my mind, hazing is absolutely no different than bullying. And, just like bullying, the greatest concern lies in the reactions to this incident.  Parents are quoted as “being shocked that something like that could happen in their town.”  (Read – denial) Kids are quoted as saying  “it’s a ritual and a rite of passage.” (Read – acceptance) School officials were quick to respond that “there is no such ritual, it’s an isolated incident.”  (Read – rejection)

Sound familiar?  How often do we say that these things could never possibly happen here?  And, even if they did, well then, certainly our child wouldn’t be involved.  So we won’t get involved or look at the issue and then we can pretend it doesn’t exist.

Bullying, drugs, abuse…. it happens in every town at every socio-economic level.   We need to recognize that yes, these problems can and will happen in our community and get proactive about dealing with them rather than waiting for something to happen.   What’s more,  the belief that “kids will be kids” or “this is the way it always was” needs to stop. Social media has taken bullying to a new level.  Prescription drug abuse and the street drugs are deadlier than they used to be. Distracted driving continues to climb. These dangers weren’t around when we were young.

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