What others say: It’s time to say ‘enough’

  • Monday, August 11, 2014 6:48pm
  • Opinion

To the youth of Juneau, we have failed you. And for that our community should truly feel sorry.

Far too many of you have been subjected to cruel, humiliating and undeserved abuse, and it’s been happening longer than many of us knew. Your classmates call it hazing; we believe the word cruelty is more correct.

We have the opportunity to unite against these practices in light of the May 31 police investigation into the abductions and paddlings of incoming freshmen by upperclassmen. To those on the receiving end of the paddle that night, know that many in your community are still working to ensure those actions are met with equal consequences. We must demand better of our young people, and it falls on the shoulders of us all to end these practices now.

To parents of the abused, we understand why you chose silence over testifying. You fear for what might happen to your child next. You know as well as we do that high school can be a vicious arena where mob mentality rules the hallways. You were being asked to subject your child to further abuse so some other parent’s kid might get a free pass and attend school bully-free. That’s not an easy request to grant.

No parent should have to make this decision alone. There is strength in numbers, as those bullying your kids know well. All parents of bullied, beaten and hazed students must band together, take action and demand change. Waiting for others to take action is how bullying is allowed to persist, fester and then evolve into something worse.

To the coaches of players who did the paddling, you must demonstrate the true character of your program and yourselves as leaders of young men by suspending those you know were involved. The school district has a list of names and is undergoing its own investigation, but you have the authority, and more importantly the responsibility, to put players on the field who represent what your team stands for. It will be a telling sign of what you hold dearest, victory on the field or off it, when we see your starting lineup take the field later this month. What you decide will become a part of your legacy and can never be rewritten.

To our school district leaders, the ball is in your court now. You don’t need to convince a panel of jurors of guilt. You know what has happened. You are the jury now, and if you have half as much evidence sitting on your desk as we do, you know inaction isn’t an option. This issue goes beyond student safety. It’s about teaching the perpetrators and those who might follow in their path a lesson between what is right and wrong. Now that school district leaders know what’s been happening, they are now liable if nothing is done and bullying escalates further or is allowed to continue.

No suspension or expulsion will match the humility or pain the victims experienced, but some justice is better than none. Our community can no longer stick our heads in the sand and pretend these things aren’t happening. Adults must not turn their backs.

Too many of our children are being physically beaten and emotionally tormented, and we all must do our part to end it before more of our youth fall victim to this senseless and cowardly ritual.

— Juneau Empire,

Aug. 10

More in Opinion

The official ballot for the Aug. 16, 2022, Special General Election features ranked choice voting. (State of Alaska Division of Elections)
Voices of the Peninsula: Check out the ballot before you vote

This kind of ballot is not something you have seen before.

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Why I’m voting for Walker

Walker is the only candidate with the potential to govern effectively for all Alaskans.

Nick Begich III campaign materials sit on tables ahead of a May 16 GOP debate held in Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Nick Begich is who Alaska and America need now

It is in Alaska’s best interest to elect a member of the Republican party

State Sen. Josh Revak (Photo provided)
The time has come to end Big Tech’s rule

The hope is that the bipartisan American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992) will come to the Senate floor for a vote

Michael Heimbuch attends a memorial service for the late Drew Scalzi on Aug. 5, 2005, at the Seafarers Memorial on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Point of View: King salmon: The clash of culture and science

People do some pretty awful things to king salmon stocks

Lieutenant governor candidate Edie Grunwald speaks at a Charlie Pierce campaign event at Paradisos restaurant in Kenai on Saturday, March 5, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Election Integrity: An Alaskan question with an Alaskan answer

A needless round of feel-good meetings and what-if conversations will be a thing of the past

This photo shows the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’m a longtime educator, and I’m supporting Walker/Drygas

The issues our state faces are significant with regard to education.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Congress could keep health insurance costs from rising, but it has to act fast

The cost of health insurance will rise substantially next year for about 13 million Americans

The offical ballot for the Aug. 16, 2022, Special General Election features ranked choice voting. (State of Alaska Divison of Elections)
Opinion: Alaskans deserve an election system that represents our differences

The new system’s goal is to make this election cycle transparent, secure and easy for all Alaskans to vote

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell (Courtesy)
Opinion: UAA’s career certificates are helping to fill Alaska’s workforce pipeline

At UAA, we are announcing a new suite of certificate programs responding to some of the state’s most critical needs

Opinion: Remaining vigilant after 30 years

Exxon Valdez spurred both federal and state legislatures, the industry, and the public to come together