A hazing ritual goes awry, someone ends up dead. And we shake our heads -- in sympathy with the victim and his or her family, in anger at the perpetrators, in frustration that someone in authority didn't do something to prevent it. We also need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves about the kinds of kids we are raising.
Angst is rising again now that five fraternity brothers from Baruch College in Manhattan face murder charges following a hazing ritual in 2013 in which a freshman essentially was beaten to death. More than 30 other members face charges such as assault. The details are chilling. At a house in the Poconos, Chun Hsien Deng, 19, of Queens, was blindfolded, weighted with a backpack full of sand and forced to run a gauntlet of frat members. Knocked unconscious with a brain injury, he died the next day.
Those students at some point thought hazing Deng was a good idea. Like the University at Albany students who last year thought it was a good idea to get a pledge to chug 60 ounces of vodka; he died of alcohol poisoning. Like the West Point cadets who thought it was a good idea to put hard objects inside pillowcases for the annual plebe pillow fight last month; 30 were injured, 24 with concussions.CartoonDavies' latest cartoon: Transition of powerCommentSubmit your letterReader essaysGet published in Newsday
Many states, colleges and fraternities ban hazing. But officials can't be everywhere. What students always have are the values and moral compass instilled in them by their families. That, ultimately, is where responsibility lies. Because these horrifying incidents stem from decisions students make -- premeditated or spontaneously while under stress.
National Hazing Prevention Week begins Monday. Have a conversation with your children about right and wrong and resisting pressure, before we all find ourselves shaking our heads again.