Editorial: Not a rite of passage

We anticipate some changes coming to Shenandoah County schools in the wake of accusations of student misconduct on a school bus carrying Strasburg High School coaches and basketball players home from a game in West Virginia last December.

Hazing, bullying, whatever you want to call it, cannot continue to be a “boys will be boys” (or “girls will be girls”) rite of passage through high school – or middle school or elementary school.  Students need to understand that attacking another student is not “horseplay” and why that kind of outrageous behavior will not be tolerated. They also need to understand that bullying leaves the victim with a permanent scar, or worse.

Supervising adults – coaches, teachers, parents – must ensure that children understand how to conduct themselves. Zero tolerance for bullying should be a high priority.

Schools Superintendent Jeremy Raley described the bus trip incidents as appalling. After reading an impartial investigator’s report, which included reviews of bus video and more than 50 interviews of students and coaches, we would like to add shocking and disgusting to his description.

This community should be outraged and be ready to work with the schools to stamp out bullying. Dismissing misconduct as team bonding or locker room antics is ridiculous and only allows the behavior to continue, as noted in the report, as “a common, everyday occurrence.”

The report indicated that there have been other incidents at Strasburg High  School – after a football game in November, and other times in the locker room.  Some students said “lynching” – defined in the report “as the practice of inserting fingers and/or other objects into the anus of another person” started a year or two ago. The report notes that some students said they were afraid to take showers for fear of being attacked.

The superintendent said last week that changes are on the way “to improve the athletic department at Strasburg High School and division wide.”  He and the person who reported the bus incident should be commended for bringing this festering problem to light.

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