From Left: Sean Pinson, Tristan Scragg and Max Meyerson all...

From Left: Sean Pinson, Tristan Scragg and Max Meyerson all of Rye High School. (June 6, 2012) Credit: Photo by Westchester District Attorney

Every so often we need to be reminded of the obvious: Beating kids with a wooden stick is an ugly act of violence — even when it’s done under the guise of tradition.

Incidents like the “Freshman Friday” episode allegedly involving Rye students — rituals popularized by movies like "Animal House" — go way too far. And they’re against the law.

More than a dozen eighth-graders who will enter Rye High School in September were reportedly rounded up last week by high school juniors, taken to a wooded area at the Marshlands Conservancy and paddled as part of an initiation.

One student was reportedly bruised so badly he went to the hospital and expects to miss a week of school. So far, three high school students are facing serious criminal charges, no laughing matter for anyone.

Even some Rye High School students interviewed about the situation say this tradition went too far. 

Despite an ongoing dialogue across the country about bullying  and an occasional tragedy like one last year in which a drum major with Florida A&M’s marching band died after hazing by bandmates, ritualistic episodes like these persist.

It’s clear the school district could do more than warn against hazing or send letters about the possibility it might happen.

Meanwhile, credit should be given to those who are speaking up, including the mother whose son was harmed and another student who reportedly called police. Other people may come forward as well.
That will go a long way to curb the behavior and, we hope, educate students about the effects of such stupidity. Many of them will face similar situations when they go to college.

The legal process will play itself out, but another one should, too: that people will speak up before hazing turns to violence.