Savagery in Chicago Suburbs
The article “Girl Fight: Savagery in The Chicago Suburbs” written by Susannah Meadows and Dirk Johnson, and published in May of 2003 by Newsweek still arouses controversy and shivers, especially for parents who have children that sooner or later will be attending high school. Not only the privileged Glenbrook North in Chicago suburbs in particular, but what Newsweek called savagery, could happen anywhere if there is a mixture of teenage brain, alcohol, lack of supervision, revenge and unfortunately the pressure for social acceptance.
So what exactly happened? According to the authors, what was supposed to be an innocent “tradition of the powder puff football game” arranged by the senior girls for the junior girls, turned to an out of control game of humiliation and revenge. Girls were being pushed and kicked, splattered with paint and human feces. Later in the text we find out that, pig parts which were supplied by one of the parents were thrown at the poor girls. Someone put bucket over one girl’s head and hid it with a baseball bat.
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Parents of one girl, who lost consciousness during that “game,” testified later that “the victims were threatened with more violence if they left the field. ” After the beatings and humiliations ended, five girls were sent to the hospital, one with a broken ankle, and another with a concussion so serious it caused memory loss, another to receive 10 stitches in her scalp. Every rule and principle of that game was violated, and per Mike Green, Northbrook Police deputy chief “many of the students could face criminal charges. ” Not everyone; however, was part of the vicious game.
The tape of that horrible incident, that was released and examined by the school officials, and later used by lawyers including Rollin Suskin, who represented several of the victims, also shows a group of girls that were trying to stop the atrocious behavior and protect one of the injured girls. Mike Riggle, the school principal, concludes that “the torture might have its roots in grudges”, and a Glenbrook North senior adds that “whatever the reason for the beatings, the juniors submitted to the punishment for social acceptance. This incident makes the public wonder what was behind all this violence. Some people make excuses for the torturers; others found the behavior outrageous and demand legal actions. In my opinion both assumptions are reasonable. While I am full of empathy for the victims, and I understand the seriousness of the physical and emotional damage that they were subjected to, I also understand the pattern of the behavior of the oppressors.
Is it really the teenagers’ fault, or is there a whole society, including school, parents and other students, not only those who participated but also the bystanders’ to blame? According to the article tape from previous year’s hazing revealed some violence, giving the future seniors signals that hazing and bullying are accepted norms by the school society, and most students conformed to this norm. Consequently, the senior girls were treated superior to the rest of the group and took the game to the extreme. However, are they the only ones to blame?
As stated by the article, the fact that some parents supplied alcohol and even the pig parts for the ritual clearly sends signal to the young brains that such behavior is acceptable. Thus, judgment and assessment of the situation was left to adolescents influenced by the alcohol supplied by parents. On the end of the day, even when we feel outrageous of what happened to the victims, we might also think about the savage girls. According to the science human brain is not yet fully developed at the age of eighteen.
After researchers developed brain-imaging technology, it was discovered that our brains developed more slowly revealing that, the sometimes, outrageous teenager’s behavior is complex and have scientific explanation. Teens are more likely than adults to be driven by impulses and that what exactly happened on the infamous Sunday, in May of 2003. These children in most cases were not fully capable of empathy; they lived in the moment and didn’t think about consequences.
Aristotle concluded “the young are heated by nature as drunken men by wine. ” Here we have literally drunken young brains. Children, on the edge of adulthood left with alcohol, no supervision and understanding that the hazing is a social norm. I’m sure that these girls, once they grew older and understood their behavior, its consequences, and what they have done to other human beings, now live with nightmares, guilt, and shame. They are victims of their own crime. Furthermore, they are not the only ones to blame.
Parents supposed to set exquisite example and provide care and support for their offspring’s rather than supplying the alcohol. School should supervise and play active role even in these kinds of informal events, instead of avoiding responsibility by claiming that the incident took place outside the school territory. As the school officials and parents are equally, if not more, guilty of “the savagery” than the girls, I am not surprised that the incident disappeared from media and there was no legal consequences for any of the out of control teens.