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Two More H.S. Sports Teams Grappling With Hazing Allegations

It hasn't been a good school year when it comes to hazing allegations and high school sports teams. Seven football players in Sayreville, N.J., are currently facing criminal charges due to their alleged role in hazing incidents, while, two weeks ago, the Central Bucks (Pa.) school district cancelled the remainder of its football season due to "allegations of improper conduct."

Last week, two more hazing allegations surfaced involving high school sports teams. Eldred (N.Y.) High School forfeited its football team's season finale this past weekend "amid reports of widespread and pervasive hazing," according to a statement on the district's website, while Cheltenham (Pa.) High School released information last Tuesday about a reported hazing incident that occurred in September with its boys' soccer team.

In Eldred, over a three-week period, "members of the football team engaged in such inappropriate hazing acts commonly referred to as 'teabagging,' as well as students sitting on each others' faces, and pushing their face into the other student's 'junk' while on school grounds," according to the statement on the district website. The students were fully clothed during these alleged incidents.

"Our school district's highest priority is the safety and security of all of our students," Eldred Central Superintendent Robert Dufour said in the statement. "While these acts did not result in any physical harm, they were not harmless in intent. Hazing is not acceptable, will not be tolerated, and will be dealt with severely by the district."

The district notified the local police department of the hazing allegations, and the police are working to determine whether any students violated the law.

In Cheltenham, members of the boys' soccer team were "dangled by their underwear" in a hazing incident in September, district spokeswoman Susan O'Grady said in a statement this past Tuesday, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. The incident has been "thoroughly investigated, and certain actions have been taken with regard to certain athletes and certain district personnel with supervisory responsibilities," the statement read, per the paper.

In speaking with Greg Tufaro of MyCentralJersey.com, Claudio V. Cerullo, the founder and executive director of Teach Anti Bullying, a national anti-bullying organization, openly wondered whether Sayreville's stand against hazing enticed other districts to act accordingly.

"I think the mere fact that he took a stand certainly had a domino effect across the nation," Cerullo said, "and what it says is that we are not going to tolerate bullying or hazing, and at the same time protect our children."

Whether districts' willingness to shut down entire seasons due to hazing allegations has an impact on future student behavior remains to be seen. The more incidents like these that gain attention, however, the more student-athletes should realize that their participation on sports teams could come crumbling down with one major misstep.

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