This summer, two 18-year-olds and a minor from Browerville were charged with multiple criminal accounts ranging from sexual assaults to lewd conduct and exposure against their teammates on the football and basketball teams.
To some, it was a hazing ritual gone extreme, but to the Todd County attorney it was criminal.
Following as it does by a couple of years, an incident of hazing on a Pierz school bus, it would seem incumbent upon all area school administrators and coaches to address this topic with all of their students, and especially their athletes.
The facts behind such incidents are that they usually begin out of sight, and are difficult to prove, but if not caught quickly, can escalate into a scandal that embarrasses the entire community. As we have learned through numerous news stories through the years, victims of such attacks are reluctant to come forward. They fear that they won’t be believed or that there will be retaliation by the bullies who victimized them. To some victims, if it goes on long enough, a culture of perversion can develop, making it seem as if this is normal behavior.
Too many youngsters today aren’t getting the training they need at home, or even may be abused at home themselves. In turn, the abusive behavior manifests itself elsewhere.
While we need to remember that we are dealing with children, even teenagers who in some cases end up in adult court only because of a recent birthday when some in their same group of assailants get to go to juvenile court, we can’t use that as an excuse not to discuss the issue openly.
Children need to be told what is right and wrong, and to know that there will be serious repercussions that can affect them the remainder of their lives if they sexually assault other students. The claim, “I was just kidding around. I didn’t mean any harm,” just doesn’t cut it.
Even today, news reports are revealing that some of the teammates of the Browerville accused just want the whole ordeal to be over so they can get on with life. While that may be an honest reaction, to prevent it from happening again, standards must be re-established by adults.
Every child needs to know that their body is their own, and they have a right to say “no” to unwanted groping and worse. No one has to put up with anything like that in order to be a part of the team.