Editor’s Note: This is an editorial written by the Ithaca Voice Editor Jeff Stein.

To submit a response, contact us at jstein@ithacavoice.com.


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GROTON, N.Y. — Sometime in September 2014, a teenager was attacked in a locker room of Groton High School. By his supposed teammates.

According to court documents, the freshman was pinned to the ground by one older student while another older student rubbed his private parts on the victim. Two teenagers later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges in connection with the incident.

We don’t claim to know the legal merits of a lawsuit, filed by the victim’s mother and covered by the Ithaca Voice on Monday. But we do know that attacks on the mother’s motives — hinted at in the school’s response to her lawsuit and made explicit by some Ithaca Voice Facebook commenters yesterday — are without merit.

Imagine what the mother has endured: Trying to ensure her son was OK after the attack; making open criticisms of the football team, one of the town’s most popular institutions; facing blowback for trying to fight back.

And of course she’s also endured the worst indignity of all: watching her son suffer from what the lawsuit calls “serious emotional and psychological injuries.”

So the mother has been through enough. But that’s not the only reason the Groton and broader Tompkins County communities should be doing everything possible to support — rather than criticize — her stand against hazing.

As we know all too well from the death of Cornell student George Desdunes in 2011, hazing remains an under-appreciated danger across the country.

A recent investigation by Bloomberg found that more than 40 high school boys across the country were “sodomized with foreign objects by their teammates” in one year alone. That was up from about three incidents a decade ago, according to Bloomberg.

If we have any chance of eradicating hazing, we have to stop treating cases like the one in Groton as harmless pranks. And we should trust that the parents of hazing victims are doing what they think is best — both for their children, and the community’s.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.