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Entire team shouldn't be punished

Sept. 26, 2003

Staff editorial

It's not unusual to hear of hazing violations at colleges, but what happens when high school students are accused of hazing their classmates?

A grand jury currently is investigating allegations that several high school football players from Bellmore, N.Y. sexually assaulted teammates during a preseason training camp. Three varsity football players allegedly sodomized junior varsity team members with a broomstick, pine cones and golf balls at the five-day camp in Pennsylvania.

Three of the players since have been suspended by Mepham High School officials, and the school district canceled the entire football season as punishment.

The Lariat believes punishing the entire football program for the actions of a few players is unfair to those who were innocent. The school district is right to take action against the few who took part in the hazing and the students who were hazed should press charges against their classmates, but the entire team should not receive punishment.

CNN.com reported the three varsity players sodomized three junior varsity players, while a handful of others watched. Legal action should merely be taken against the individuals involved.

From the ages of 14 to 18, many teenage boys often are immature and may not have understood the complexity of the action they were observing. The players were more than likely repeating the same ritual they had experienced when they were younger.

Instead of punishing the entire team, the school needs to look at how its program is conducted and make serious changes, including better chaperoning. It should take measures to set a precedence by holding the individuals, not the entire team, responsible.