Between [Seneca Valley High School] allegations and the case with the Damascus football players that have occurred recently, I am utterly heartbroken. I am a resident of the Clarksburg/Germantown area and a proud graduate of Clarksburg High School. To see these things happening while I am away at college feels as if I’m watching them happen from a completely different universe, but then I remember that these are my neighbors.
It bothers me on an immense scale when I see articles address these incidents and allegations as “bullying,” “hazing,” even “bullying of a sexual nature.” It’s like we want to walk the line of calling it what it really is instead of calling it what it really is. Yes, it is hazing, but on a much more real level, it’s sexual assault. As a society, we like to play down the intensity of situations with our language so it’s easier for us to digest, but it’s time to stop walking that fine line and bring some reality to these circumstances.
Another reality is that the punishment for allegations like these if proven true, should be no less than expulsion. Not sitting out a couple of games or even the whole season. Not suspension or a slap on the wrist, but expulsion. If we keep looking at occurrences of sexual assault through a “boys will be boys” kind of lens, we teach kids that they can get away with these things.
We also have to think about what we’re doing as a society that facilitates this kind of behavior. What kind of social pressure are these kids put under to be “masculine,” “tough,” ruthless, that causes them to make these choices? What expectations do they feel they have to live up to? Why does masculinity often equate to cruelty?
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