The actions, or inactions, of the Unified School District 428 administration regarding the alleged sexual battery of Great Bend High School swim team members have been appalling. The refusal to comment, offer comfort to those involved or take on these heinous allegations head-on shows a failure of leadership.
This is an institution that is charged by taxpayers to not only teach our children the three Rs, but also lessons in becoming adults. We as parents also trust the school system to keep our kids safe.
Students themselves enter our schools each day and participate in activities with a certain expectation that they will be safe from harm. Now, this assumption of security has been shattered.
Now, bad things happen. There will be bullying and there will be children hurt.
Gone, perhaps, are the days of shoving freshmen into lockers. But social media has opened a new Pandora’s box in the world kids teasing and tormenting each other.
This is all the more reason for officials to address such incidents right from the outset with a strong response that proves to the community they take them seriously. It takes more than a boiler plate “no comment” statement to assure traumatized youth and a traumatized public that they care.
In the administration’s response, it fell back on clinically quoting policy. Just to get this took pulling teeth.
What are these folks thinking? Do they believe that by ignoring the situation, the problem will go away?
When faced with a real crisis, the reaction has been to stubbornly stick heads in the sand. Is all the emphasis on character and anti-bullying education just lip service?
It is sad when teachers, members of the School Board and parents have to hear about such matters through media reports.
Imagine these kids going to school and facing their peers. Now add to this that their teachers weren’t prepared to support them.
Officials here bungled this case at so many levels. Perhaps the saddest part of this is that they squandered the opportunity to take a strong stand against this kind of behavior and be a leader in promoting civility and respect for one another.
No matter how hard we try, we cannot hide from the ugliness of the world around us. What we can do is draw the line in the sand when we have a chance.