New Jersey High School Cancels Football Season After Bullying Allegations
The societal problem of bullying forced a New Jersey high school to cancel its entire football season Monday. Sayreville Superintendent Richard Labbe made the decision after he determined upon initial findings “there was enough evidence … that incidents took place on a pervasive level, on a wide-scale level, and at a level in which the players knew, tolerated and in general accepted,” he said after a two-hour meeting with the team’s parents. The investigation is being conducted by the Sayreville Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Neither the victims nor the alleged bullies were identified. What’s as compelling as the ugly harassment is the parents’ reaction to it. Many were “outraged” at Labbe’s move to cancel the rest of the season, claiming that the coaches, not their children, should be held accountable. The coaches have not spoken publicly yet. The parents are not looking at the larger picture, however. What is important now is creating an environment in which authorities can fully investigate and the team continuing to practice and play football games is clearly not the right atmosphere. It’s easy for parents to say that not every player was involved so everyone should not be punished but, from Labbe’s statement, this was a situation where the culture of the locker room was one of intimidation and dismissing a few players may not have been the solution. Curiously, the ban on performing also applies to the cheerleaders and the marching band. Bullying in locker rooms or by students in general is certainly nothing new but what has changed for the better is the lack of tolerance to it once it has crossed the line. Kudos to Labbe for recognizing that and acting quickly.