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Monday, July 13, 2020
Home Schools On Hazing Incident, a Call to Action

On Hazing Incident, a Call to Action

By Lauren Rosen, Guest Columnist

Lauren Rosen, LCSW-R is a licensed social worker specializing in adolescents and families. She works for Student Assistance Services in the Pelham Schools and maintains a private practice in Rye. [Full disclosure, she is the spouse of MyRye.com Publisher Jay Sears.]

Dear Rye Community:

I don’t think anyone who has heard about the events that took place a week ago last Friday, where 8th grade boys were “hazed” by 11th grade boys with paddles, would disagree that what took place was disgusting, reprehensible and very upsetting.  Most people start to think to themselves, ‘how could this happen’ and it is very easy to look for who to blame. 

Instead of taking that route, why don’t we come together as a community and focus more on the ‘how could this happen’ part.  Let’s pull our resources together and make sure we can prevent something like this from ever happening again.  I propose that all members of the community that work with/have concerns about our young people talk together – the school administrators, superintendent, teachers, coaches, law enforcement (both Rye Police and Westchester County Police), PTO/PO executive board members, Rye Youth Council members, City Council members, leaders in our churches/synagogues and most importantly, PARENTS.  We have so many excellent resources – let’s not waste our time blaming, but instead, have the difficult conversations and figure out how to make sure this “tradition” ends.  Now.

Young people need to know that the adults in their lives are making the rules and then enforcing the rules.  There are consequences for actions.  So why don’t we together spell out very clearly what is unacceptable behavior and what the consequences will be?  Let’s make sure policy is written both in our town laws and our school laws.  Then let’s make sure it is enforceable and enforced.

At our dinner table, we have discussed what happened.  It was interesting for us to hear what our children had to say (we have three boys).  Our nine year old was sort of shocked when his older brothers explained to him what had happened and he immediately responded, “Don’t you get in big trouble for that?”  Our 11 year old seemed to focus on his own fear that this might happen to him one day, and he reported to us that some of the 8th grade boys he has recently befriended have promised him that they would look out for him when he was in 8th grade and protect him (as they would then be 11th graders).  Our 13 year old was more cynical, repeatedly stating that this has been going on for a long time and “would never change”.  He seemed to get a little caught-up in who was to blame, but seemed adamant that this was just “how it was and nothing anyone did would ever change it.”  I, of course, was horrified that he could believe this, and I guess that is what started me thinking, ‘well, how do I show him that change can happen?’

So, I throw it out to you, the Rye Community.  One of the things I truly love about this community is how we come together in times of tragedies (and unfortunately, there have been many).  It is the essence of small town thinking – let’s help our neighbors.  Why can’t we do the same thing here?  Let’s take this terrible happening and do something about it.  I propose some sort of town hall meeting, with a moderator, to begin the discussion of what we need to do as a community to ensure this never happens again.  Let’s prove to our young people that change can happen and we can take care of them and protect them.  Let’s make sure that nothing like this happens again.  It would be nice to prove my nine year old right, that yes, you do get in really big trouble for this and that this type of behavior is unacceptable here and everywhere.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Lauren, I respectfully disagree with your comment “So why don’t we together spell out very clearly what is unacceptable behavior and what the consequences will be? Let’s make sure policy is written both in our town laws and our school laws.”

    In my mind, that is exactly what is wrong with Rye’s (and today’s) children. We do not need to spell out and put in writing what is acceptable and non-acceptable behavior. We need to educate our children to know right from wrong. Impart on them to be good frinds, siblings and students. Generating a list of “Do’s & Don’ts” is a cop-out.

  2. Lauren –
    I agree with your sentiment. As angry as I am at the three boys who committed this act, I am stunned that they are to be held as adults. I talked to a couple of attorneys who informed me that minors are typically treated as such unless they had a long relationship with law enforcement officers and showed no signs of tempering their behavior, or had committed so heinous and callous an act that they did not deserve the leniency afforded to minors, or the DA wanted to make a political statement. Unfortunately, it looks as if the DA is looking to profit from their bad decision. It is unfortunate because their lives stand to be permanently impacted. Justice is not served when no punishment is served, nor when the punishment far outweighs exceeds the crime. They should suffer consequences, but ones that will end in better judgment, not a ruined life.

  3. Lauren,

    I hear your plead loud and clear as I am sure many others do as well!

    The first change that needs to take place is – PLEASE stop labeling this as “hazing”….there was no paddle used, it was logs & or 2×4’s and the only initiation accomplished was a trip to a hospital & fear!

    You ask “how could this happen” and we need to stop looking for blame….Lauren, this is exactly why it happened….it is because of where the blame lies!!!

    “Consequenses for actions”….seriously??? Have you forgotten this is Rye….City of ENTITLEMENT!!!

    You ask yourself why your son thinks this will never change….HE WAS TAUGHT THIS!!!
    This Rye society CONDONED this behavior until these 3 boys took it to another level!
    Every level of Authority in Rye has turned a blind eye to this from day one….and your surprised???

    I will agree with you on this….a meeting should be called and I will only attend if every school official, city official, and RPD is present….otherwise it would be a complete waste of time!!!

    @ Avg. Citizen,

    Well we seem to agree on something…we not only need to educate them we need to hold them RESPONSIBLE for their actions as well!!!

  4. Matt,

    I agree & disagree, this is a tough one, yes the punishment needs to fit the crime but with a Y.O. status they walk as if it never happened…I don’t want to see their lives ruined but what about the lives they possibly ruined???

    If these kids skate with a slap on the wrist and the victims lives are permanently damaged….then what?

  5. “Young people need to know that the adults in their lives are making the rules and then enforcing the rules. There are consequences for actions. So why don’t we together spell out very clearly what is unacceptable behavior and what the consequences will be? Let’s make sure policy is written both in our town laws and our school laws. Then let’s make sure it is enforceable and enforced.”

    I couldn’t have said it any better Lauren. Bravo!

    But unfortunately today’s Rye isn’t going to uphold or enforce rules.

    http://www.lausdeo10580.com/lausdeo10580/2012/06/rye-2010-present-property-owners-variance-applications.html

    This isn’t the town that our father’s worked so hard to keep pristine and welcoming in its governmental affairs. That’s why many of the corruption fighters joining us early are “born-here’s.” We are revolted by what’s going on because we saw our parents sacrifice to make and enforce Rye laws.

    I don’t know if you know this but like you, my father maintained a Rye practice for over 50 years as well as his office and clinic at Columbia Presbyterian.

    http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/lohud/obituary.aspx?n=frank-d-carroll&pid=149083905

    He was a tireless supporter of Rye government integrity working with John Motley Morehead, Ed Grainger and others. I can tell you that it takes courage for a local practitioner like you to speak out on almost any issue. It didn’t stop him. And I’m so glad to see it doesn’t stop you. Jay’s a lucky guy.

  6. Jim –

    While the scars from being bullied might last a long time, the consequences of a felony or misdemeanor conviction are severe and everlasting. The ability to vote, to run for and hold public office, to pursue a professional career (doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc), to serve as an officer in the military, the right to bear arms, to recieve security clearance for government jobs, even to travel to certain foreign countries could be severely impacted. Worse, the youth will be told by the criminal justice system that they are not equal in the eyes of the law to other citizens. It is a stain that one carries forever.

    There’s a very good reason why minors are shown a certain amount of leniency in the criminal justice system. Teens are not adults, and do not fully comprehend the impact of their actions. It is expected that teens will occasionally make mistakes as they mature. Most often, these mistakes are made in ignorance of the consequences. Repeat juevenile offenders can be tried as adults because they should know better. First-timers, however, are usually ignorant about the very real costs of their actions. Had someone informed the boys that they would be held as adults, and that their records would be permanently stained with a misdemeanor or felony conviction, I have to believe that they would have dropped the 2x4s and let the victims go immediately.

    “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” is a common refrain, but it should only apply to legal adults and minors who’ve had the chance to be educated through bad choice (repeat offenders). By definition,minors are not held legally liable for their actions, and are provided protection against themselves – they cannot be incarcerated with adult inmates, they cannot be executed, their names are kept confidential when accused of a crime, parents or legal guardians must be present during police questioning, etc. The legal system recognizes that childhood is fundamentally different than adulthood.

    I understand – and share in – the outrage the community has expressed, but as the parent of three boys I would hate to see any of their lives ruined by a stupid senseless act on their part before they had a full comprehension of how society corrects such injustices. I’m concerned that our educational system is more interested in pushing touchy-feely topics like global warming and diversity instead of instilling civic knowledge of how our country and community operates, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Hopefully the schools are teaching both, but Civics should be mandatory for all.

    I don’t know any of the perpetrators, but I must believe that they now know what they did was not funny, cool, or macho. It was simply cruel and stupid.

    I agree they shouldn’t get off with a slap on the wrist, but the punishment should not ruin their lives. The victims will physically recover. They will certainly carry the pyschological impacts of this act for a lot longer – as will the perpetrators, who will carry the shame of what they’ve done.

    It’s not inconceivable that they may even grow into better people because of what happened. I think these youths should be given a chance to redeem themselves before they are damned by an overzealous prosecutor. The punishment can carry a significant burden (expulsion, exclusion, 100 hours community service, banned from sports, etc.) without destroying their future.

  7. @Matt – I’m not sure where you are going here. Your remarks today seem to conflict with your previous remarks. I refer to the statements in quotes below, among others, which characterize a violent act as a “mistake”. Of course by doing an about face here you have an opportunity to take a shot at our educational system teaching about global warming and diversity, so you scored right winger points there, but when you talk about “youths” and “mistakes” you sound like Al Sharpton. Have you been watching MSNBC on the down low?

    “Teens are not adults, and do not fully comprehend the impact of their actions. It is expected that teens will occasionally make mistakes as they mature. Most often, these mistakes are made in ignorance of the consequences.”

    I understood the impact of beating someone with a weapon well before my teens. No one benefits from sanitizing this ugly crime by calling it a mistake by youths who didn’t understand the consequences. My sympathy remains with the victims of the crime.

  8. Charmian –

    Re-read my posts more carefully. I have not changed my opinion. The perps should be punished. However, the punishment should fit the crime, and the normal legal process should be followed. If you believe that minors should be tried as adults, you are ignoring centuries of jurisprudence.

    Unless these boys have prior arrests for similar activities (and there’s no indication that they have), they should be treated as minors.

    Injustice is caused not only by the absence of justice, it is caused by a dis-proportionate response to the crime. Often, mobs “demand” justice in the absence of all the facts, and DAs have been known to try to score cheap political points by satisfying the mob’s blood-lust. Remember the Duke lacrosse “rape” case, where lives and careers were ruined precisely because a politically minded DA abused his power, ignored and supressed evidence in his rush to judgment? Please don’t tell me it couldn’t happen here.

    I also have sympathy for the victims, but that does not condone an undue and overly harsh response from the legal system. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    You are willing to condemn these boys because you claim you would have understood the impact of your actions at their age. But that is not how the legal system for minors operates (or, for that matter, for anyone). Again, the law quite clearly and quite correctly differentiates between childhood and adulthood. It recognizes that minors are more likely to make mistakes without fully contemplating the possible consequences. There’s plenty of pyschological evidence to show that the mind of a youth is more susceptible to engaging in risky or dangerous behavior, for a host of reasons.

    And comparing me to Al Sharpton – where in the world did that come from???

  9. Calling violence “youths” making “mistakes” is pretty Al Sharpton-esque, Matt.

    I didn’t mention the legal system and jurisprudence anywhere, you did. The DA, Duke Lacrosse, all that, is not relevant to the simple point I’m making.

    What I did say, and I read pretty carefully, is that you did an about face from your previous comments.

    There’s this: “Being kicked off a sports team, being required to perform 100 hours of community service cleaning out the town’s sewers, spending time in the big house… contemplating those activities as consequences would give any rational thinker pause. No matter what punishment they get, I hope they learn the invaluable lesson that actions have consequences. This won’t ruin their lives,but it should be a major speed bump on their road to Nirvana.”

    Then there’s this: ” No, the blame lies squarely with the three punks arrested. They have made an enormous mistake, and should pay the price, perhaps by expulsion from the RCSD, jail time, elimination from any sports program, required anger management training, psychological examinations, etc. And not on the taxpayer’s dime, either. Sometimes, one’s purpose in life is only to serve as a warning to others. If these three are treated harshly, their lives will undoubtedly be harmed to some extent – but then, haven’t they already harmed others? ”

    That’s all.

  10. Matt, SERIOUSLY?

    First of all Matt – no 16-18 yr old not mentally disturbed needs to know the consequences of his/her actions to know right from wrong….these boys come from solid families, they were not taught this at home, they have been well educated and are far from stupid(maybe)…ALL 3 knew damn well what they were doing and knew damn well they shouldn’t have been doing….this went far beyond any description of Hazing!!!

    Answer me this Matt….what is more important…all the poor me consequences you just mentioned or being alive?
    Which of these 6 boys would be most likely to take their own life or be in therapy for the rest of their natural life in result of this incident?

  11. Charmian, Jim –

    I will say it again, as the two of you seem to think I am advocating these 3 escape justice completely – the punishment should fit the crime. I am NOT saying they should get off scot-free. What I am saying is that the law requires that they be treated as minors, UNLESS there is ample evidence that previous brushes with the law show a callous disregard to authority.

    Please justify to me why they should be tried as adults. Do you have inside information about numerous brushes they’ve had with the law? What do you suggest woudl be a fitting punishment – a few years in prison? At what age would you have this new standard begin where rash and impulsive behavior of underage kids get ranked as the behavior of an adult? 16? 14? 10? 8? Do you propose all minors be held to this standard? I understand and agree with your anger – remember, I’m disgusted by this and angry about it as well, but I don’t believe it’s in Rye’s best interest to start tossing out historical precedent to satisfy a mob’s blood-lust for vengeance.

  12. Matt,

    U know as well as everyone around here I wear my heart on my sleeve and I never sway from my opinions or change my tune….I’m very curious to know why you have?

    When this story first broke your initial reaction pretty much had these kids hanging by a noose, did someone pay you a visit?

    Read all my posts and you will see as always my opinion HAS NEVER CHANGED!

    So again, I did say in a response to your post…….
    “I agree & disagree, this is a tough one, yes the punishment needs to fit the crime but with a Y.O. status they walk as if it never happened…I don’t want to see their lives ruined but what about the lives they possibly ruined???

    If these kids skate with a slap on the wrist and the victims lives are permanently damaged….then what?”

    I don’t think I need to explain my feelings for children of any age to anyone, this no one can deny!

    Matt, your comments blow me away..
    “I don’t believe it’s in Rye’s best interest to start tossing out historical precedent to satisfy a mob’s blood-lust for vengeance.”

    A

  13. continued….Matt – A mobs blood thirst? In Rye’s best interest?

    What Mob….concerned, angry & scared parents?

    Rye’s best interest?…..that’s why we are where we are Matt….BECAUSE IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT “RYE” & NOT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!!!

    Had it been about the kids Matt, Dr. Shine and everyone else in Authority positions would have put an end to this S*** long ago…but No, God For Bid we damage those Real Estate Values and our Blue Ribbon status, by all means Matt, don’t jeopordize that, instead lets let the kids drag each other off into the woods and beat the S*** out of each other with logs & 2×4’s….YES, THAT IS THE ANSWER MATT!!!

    I have to say Matt, you have really disappointed with comments like this!!!

    Here is another million dollar question for you Matt….why do you think they buried all the facts surrounding Councilwoman Suzanna Keith’s incident on the night of May 5th….to protect her or RYE???

  14. Jim – I don’t know how I can be more clear. I am not for letting these kids go. But the difference in the legal system between a minor and an adult is extreme, and for a very good reason. I have expressed my surprise and dismay to hear that they are being tried as adults, based on my belief that this is their first offense and run-in with the law. I may be sorely mistaken in this belief but if this is their first brush with the law, I don’t see why they should be tried as adults. I believe they should face the consequences of their actions but I also believe it is possible to punish them too much. Would you agree that there is a limit to what punishment they should get? If so, we merely have a difference of opinion as to the amount of consequence. Again, I am NOT arguing for clemency or leniency, I’m arguing for appropriate measures. As I said before, it could be jail time, hundreds of hours of community service, anger management therapy, etc., but I believe prison and a permanent record is too harsh a punishment. Do you really think that’s appropriate for first-time offenders?

    Again, I also can’t blame Shine or the parents for what individuals have done of their own free will. However, I will hold them responsible for meting out an APPROPRIATE punishment to send a very strong and clear message to others.

    And yes, concerned, angry and scared parents can make quite an effective mob, easily manipulated by an ambitious and unscrupulous DA. Just a few years ago, Janet Reno and Martha Coakley destroyed lives based on a web of lies, but they had the willing support of thousands of duped parents. One later became the Attorney General of the US, and the other came close to being a senator.

  15. Matt, you gave suggestions as to a fitting punishment, not me.

    These are your words, not mine:
    “Being kicked off a sports team, being required to perform 100 hours of community service cleaning out the town’s sewers, spending time in the big house… contemplating those activities as consequences would give any rational thinker pause.

    And elsewhere you said this:
    the blame lies squarely with the three punks arrested. They have made an enormous mistake, and should pay the price, perhaps by expulsion from the RCSD, jail time, elimination from any sports program, required anger management training, psychological examinations, etc. And not on the taxpayer’s dime, either. Sometimes, one’s purpose in life is only to serve as a warning to others. If these three are treated harshly, their lives will undoubtedly be harmed to some extent – but then, haven’t they already harmed others? ”

    So why do you say I am advocating minors be tried as adults and start talking about 8 year olds and 10 year olds and mob blood lust? I just asked you why you seemed to back off from your prior stance.

    I abhor violence – even against trees. My sympathies just lie with the younger children who were the victims, not the perps. I thought yours did too.

  16. Matt,

    I don’t believe I ever suggested that you suggested these kids get off free…..You are very clear Matt, I am far from confused and understand your words very well.
    You don’t need to keep repeating this.
    I did notice how Charmian has called you on your words as well….Guess we are both confused?

    I also notice how you dodge my comments and questions???

    For the record so you can stop asking…..I am not a jury, judge, lawyer,etc., I have no say over the punishment, my focus is where I can make a difference!

    You, me & who ever have no control over the outcome of any punishment, why waste valuable energy on something you can’t change???

    What’s done is done Matt, the focus should be on putting a stop to this, the punishment is not our fight!

    We can’t ignore this for 16 years like the Crossing Guard issue, or take 6 years to fix like it took to install a couple of Stop Signs!

    We need to move swiftly like the decision on “plastic vs paper”!

  17. A plea of NOT GUILTY was entered on the misdemeanors and no plea has been entered on the felony.

    Piscoinere says “this is not a case that should be played out in the press”

    What does he think is going to happen as the lawyers drag this out…..NOT GUILTY?

    I know it is customary to plea not guilty but come on….did these kids drag themselves into the woods and beat each other senseless?????

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By Lauren Rosen, Guest Columnist

Lauren Rosen, LCSW-R is a licensed social worker specializing in adolescents and families. She works for Student Assistance Services in the Pelham Schools and maintains a private practice in Rye. [Full disclosure, she is the spouse of MyRye.com Publisher Jay Sears.]

Dear Rye Community:

I don’t think anyone who has heard about the events that took place a week ago last Friday, where 8th grade boys were “hazed” by 11th grade boys with paddles, would disagree that what took place was disgusting, reprehensible and very upsetting.  Most people start to think to themselves, ‘how could this happen’ and it is very easy to look for who to blame. 

Instead of taking that route, why don’t we come together as a community and focus more on the ‘how could this happen’ part.  Let’s pull our resources together and make sure we can prevent something like this from ever happening again.  I propose that all members of the community that work with/have concerns about our young people talk together – the school administrators, superintendent, teachers, coaches, law enforcement (both Rye Police and Westchester County Police), PTO/PO executive board members, Rye Youth Council members, City Council members, leaders in our churches/synagogues and most importantly, PARENTS.  We have so many excellent resources – let’s not waste our time blaming, but instead, have the difficult conversations and figure out how to make sure this “tradition” ends.  Now.

Young people need to know that the adults in their lives are making the rules and then enforcing the rules.  There are consequences for actions.  So why don’t we together spell out very clearly what is unacceptable behavior and what the consequences will be?  Let’s make sure policy is written both in our town laws and our school laws.  Then let’s make sure it is enforceable and enforced.

At our dinner table, we have discussed what happened.  It was interesting for us to hear what our children had to say (we have three boys).  Our nine year old was sort of shocked when his older brothers explained to him what had happened and he immediately responded, “Don’t you get in big trouble for that?”  Our 11 year old seemed to focus on his own fear that this might happen to him one day, and he reported to us that some of the 8th grade boys he has recently befriended have promised him that they would look out for him when he was in 8th grade and protect him (as they would then be 11th graders).  Our 13 year old was more cynical, repeatedly stating that this has been going on for a long time and “would never change”.  He seemed to get a little caught-up in who was to blame, but seemed adamant that this was just “how it was and nothing anyone did would ever change it.”  I, of course, was horrified that he could believe this, and I guess that is what started me thinking, ‘well, how do I show him that change can happen?’

So, I throw it out to you, the Rye Community.  One of the things I truly love about this community is how we come together in times of tragedies (and unfortunately, there have been many).  It is the essence of small town thinking – let’s help our neighbors.  Why can’t we do the same thing here?  Let’s take this terrible happening and do something about it.  I propose some sort of town hall meeting, with a moderator, to begin the discussion of what we need to do as a community to ensure this never happens again.  Let’s prove to our young people that change can happen and we can take care of them and protect them.  Let’s make sure that nothing like this happens again.  It would be nice to prove my nine year old right, that yes, you do get in really big trouble for this and that this type of behavior is unacceptable here and everywhere.