Boys will be boys- a disturbing act of violence

Elyse Guziewicz, Staff Writer

This week, seven upperclassmen from Sayreville War Memorial High School in Sayreville, New Jersey were arrested after a hazing last month went too far. It’s a story we’ve heard before: sports stars gang up on an unsuspecting underclassman and harass or embarrass him or her as a “rite of passage” into the team community.

However, in the case of Sayreville Memorial, the students are facing charges including aggravated sexual assault and criminal restraint. Quite simply, this wasn’t hazing – it was rape.

According to reports, the freshmen were forced to the ground and restrained against their will before being assaulted and inappropriately touched by their older teammates. Unfortunately, events like this are becoming more and more common – not simply hazing but sexual assault as a joke or prank.

This isn’t something we can afford to ignore any longer. Teens 16 to 18 years old are more than three times more likely to be assaulted than the general population – boys and girls. The risk to our young people is only growing, and the attitude that it’s no big deal just perpetuates the idea that hazings like this are okay.

Boys make up about 18 percent of child and adolescent victims – overall, one in every 10 rape victims is male. However, because rape is seen as a women’s issue, many boys are afraid to say anything for fear of being called gay, feminine, or weak.

The majority of sexual assaults against men are committed by other men, which is the case in the Sayreville arrests. However, almost every time an attack like this occurs, the same phrase is uttered across the media: “boys will be boys.”

What does that phrase mean? Quite simply, it’s a perpetuation of the dangerous stereotype that teenage boys have no control over their actions and that rape is simply something they do, the same as wrestling or making finger guns.

It’s this concept that teaches boys they don’t need to control themselves. This toxic concept of masculinity is poisoning our young people, boys and girls, by telling them they’re no better than any other animal on the face of the planet.

It’s this idea that convinces boys that attacks were their fault, that being assaulted makes them weak or less of a man. It convinces them that it’s okay to attack people because they feel like it, because it’s what they’re supposed to do as boys – be aggressive, be dominant.

This stereotype is damaging, and it needs to stop. Just last year in Denver, three upperclassmen from a school in Norwood, Colorado cornered and raped a thirteen-year-old boy on an empty school bus. They were in the city for a wrestling tournament.

After the principal of the school brought charges to the police, the school board had him fired. The students of the Norwood high school bullied the young victim, calling him names and plastering stickers on his locker emblazoned with “GO TO HELL.”

Countless attacks of this type have been happening across our country, yet no one seems to want to acknowledge this. It’s embarrassing and it disrupts the status quo!

However, there is one more thing these attacks cause – depression, anxiety, and skyrocketing rates of suicide among victims.

This time, do what the high school district in Sayreville is doing. They’ve canceled the football season for the rest of the year and directed their thoughts toward justice for the young boys whose lives were damaged by violence.

Don’t talk about how the attackers’ “careers were cut tragically short” or how “they were sweet boys with such a bright future.” Talk about how you can help the victims of their crimes. Talk about the rising rates of sexual violence between high school boys.

This can be the event that starts a revolution in the way sexual assault among boys is treated – let’s be a part of it.