Since the news of hazing at La Puente High School, old wounds have been reopened for locals in Southern California.
Last week freshman members of the boy’s soccer team came forward and accused at least 10 of their older teammates of jumping them in the supply closet and beating them. At least one boy was sodomized.
The victims said that they wanted to come forward after several months of silence because they did not believe they were the only ones who have had this done to them.
What is worse is that, according to the victims, the boy’s soccer coach knew about the hazing and instead of stopping it, encouraged it to happen.
One victim said he was told by the coach to go to the storage closet because he was needed and when he refused, the team harassed him until he went to the closet; winking at the coach as they did. He was attacked but was able to escape his attackers after fighting back.
Not only has hazing starting to becoming a serious issue within Southern California but also around the country.
The week before the La Puente incident, Florida A&M University marching band was suspended from playing in the football’s season opener. This was because the marching band hazed drum major Robert Champion last November, beating him to a pulp in a bus after a football game.
The injuries were extremely serious and he eventually bled to death.
The excuse that the marching band said that this is part of tradition but did not intend for this to go out of hand.
Where did they think they crossed the line?
For La Puente, the main question that has to be asked is whether school officials were so disconnected from their students and departments that they weren’t able to see this happening right under their noses?
It is believed that this has been going on for several years, and that this was not an isolated instance.
High school is a time where students start self-discovery and become comfortable with who they are, eventually turning into adults.
Hazing, of any sort, is an emotional breakdown of a person’s psyche or even testing their physical limits. It is bad enough that honor groups and certain organizations use this means to “build bonds” but to do this to students in high school is disgusting.
There would have been warning signs that this was going on. Sure, the sports fields are a long way from the nice air-conditioned building that the administration is housed in but there is a responsibility that was ignored for quite sometime for this ritual to form.
In the state of California, any sort of hazing that is reported results in a fine ranging from $100 to $5,000.
If injury is sustained during the hazing then it is recognized as a misdemeanor or a felony and those involved will spend less than a year in prison.
At this point, one coach has been put on administrative leave and four students have been cited and will appear in court next month. School administrators have not confirmed if the coach that left is actually involved in the incident.
As for the victims, the community is rallying around them in the hope that their attackers will get punishments more severe than just a smack on the hand.
Often when hazers are caught, they respond with simple answers: it was a joke; it is part of an initiation.
But these are petty excuses. Victims of hazing suffer anything from fear and intimidation, to lasting mental and physical harm.
There is no place for this in education.