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Hazing rituals engaged in by some fraternities, sports teams and other groups often involve forcing new or randomly chosen members to do things that are highly embarrassing, illegal and/or dangerous. Sometimes, hazing involves sexual harassment and assault.
A Colorado high school has been shaken by allegations of hazing and sexual misconduct by members of its football team. Falcon High School in Peyton suspended its football program earlier this month as it and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office began investigating at least one alleged incident. The team returned to practice this week, but with its assistant coach in charge.
Coaches, players and parents reportedly feared for the team’s reputation
Neither the school district nor anyone else is providing many details to the public. The district (District 49) has acknowledged that it placed some of its coaches on leave. Its internal investigation reportedly found that a number of coaches, players and parents were aware of the harassment and hazing. They didn’t report it because of how it would reflect on the team.
The principal notified parents via email that some students received “appropriate consequences” for their actions, including possibly being removed from the team permanently. It’s not known whether anyone is facing expulsion or criminal charges.
In what appeared to be a call for people to act when they see or become aware of wrongdoing, the principal also said, “The revelation of hazing and harassment has reminded us that our system depends on individuals having the courage to care for each other, even when that care might create some personal discomfort or risk.”
It’s extremely difficult, particularly for young people, to speak out about sexual assault. However, that is the first step toward seeking justice, both criminally and civilly, by holding the perpetrator and anyone who allowed their actions to continue.