A New Jersey school superintendent is leading the way when it comes to cracking down on bullying.
Sayreville school superintendent Rich Labbe has put the hammer down on the sacred cow of high school — the football team.
In a speech to parents of the team, he canceled the season and read them the “what for”.
“We can set the standard right now for all kids for all school districts in Middlesex County, in the state and in the nation that we are not going to stand around and allow kids to do this to one another.
“We are going to start holding our students responsible for doing the right thing and reporting these kinds of behaviors. I believe with every fiber of my body that the only way we are going to stop bullying is if we get the kids to go to an adult or to the authorities.
“We need our kids to stop being bystanders and start being upstanders and to report it when someone is harassing, intimidating and bullying one of their peers.
“That is why we are standing up and making a statement here that we are not tolerating that behavior by any of our student-athletes, and that we take their safety and welfare first and foremost into consideration and that everyone on that team has a responsibility to stand up and protect one another, and that was not done.”
It’s unclear what the nature of the bullying has been, but it’s significant enough, apparently, to warrant police protection for some students who were courageous enough to speak out. The police are launching a criminal investigation into the bullying, according to myCentralJersey.com.
The superintendent said there was pervasive, wide-scale and generally accepted forms of harassment, intimidation and bullying within the football program.
The school has one of the most successful football programs in the state.
Parents are outraged, but for all the wrong reasons.
The key word in Labbe’s statement was the word “accepted,” indicated that if someone on the team didn’t stand up against bullying, that’s bullying too.