On September 15, four South Carolina high students made a disgusting rape joke, spelling out “RAPE” using the spray painted letters on their chests during a football game for their school district’s annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night.
How the rape joke occurred
The incident occurred during Westside High School’s football game against rival high school D.W. Daniel. The four boys, two sophomores and two seniors, were part of a larger group that spelled out “BUMP CANCER” for the awareness event. They branched off and started making other words – “RAPE” being one of them
A picture of the four boys got shared on Snapchat with the caption, “What we do to Daniel,” referring to the team they were playing.
Reaction to the rape joke
The Anderson 5 Citizens for Quality Education Facebook group is a “non-partisan group of concerned parents, students and citizens” from the school district. The group published a screenshot of the photo to Facebook with a long post condemning the behavior.
The post reads:
Parents in District 5 have been messaging and emailing us today about a disturbing (to say the least) event that happened at yesterday’s Westside v. Daniel home football game as part of the ‘Touchdown Against Cancer’ game series.
At some point during or immediately after the game, four young men, painted with the Breast Cancer Awareness logo and colors, spelled out the word ‘RAPE,’ painted in series across their chests. They then Snapchatted a picture of this image with the caption ‘What we do to Daniel’ throughout the HS communities (T.L. Hanna students received as well), and several students captured the image and posted it on Facebook, where it is being further shared (most of the students posting captured images to FB seem to be appalled, which is encouraging).
Needless to say, using the threat of rape, even as analogy, is not behavior that any school or any parent should (or hopefully would) condone. Rape culture in high school and college is a real threat to many students. The juxtaposition of a violent message with the breast cancer awareness symbology is of particular concern. The assumption these young men seem to have made is that their position and privilege allows them to make ‘jokes’ about rape as a viable threat. We trust that the school administration, the district and the parents involved would never condone either that implicit attitude or the behavior itself. We are puzzled, however, that no action seems to have been taken at the game, when these young men were standing proudly in front of attendees, the teams and the coaching staff.
Most of us here are parents ourselves, and understand the stupidity with which teenagers can act. Nonetheless, for those teens to learn that such behavior, and the thought processes behind it, are never acceptable under any circumstances, we believe that the respective administrations need to take swift and immediate disciplinary action. We also believe that the circumstances that allowed these teens to get away with this behavior be investigated. Our members, including the students who follow us here, and who have been angrily sharing this image, can help. Please email your concerns to the school and district officials in the list below. Please don’t publicly post un-altered images of students who may be minors, a potentially illegal act (based on advice from our counsel), or that may provoke a violent response against any of the students. We want these and all of our students to learn how to be empathetic and honorable men and women. In fact, we’d like to see all of our students learn to apply the Westside Athletic mission statement. And we want our community to grow, not participate in the narrowing of cultural discourse.
The school’s reaction to the rape joke
The students and their parents met with the administration and were informed of a punishment. Due to privacy regulations, the school district is not disclosing how the students were punished.
“We are very disappointed in their actions,” Kyle Newton, the director of external affairs for the school district, told the HuffPost. “At best, what they did was extremely offensive ― at worst it could be traumatic to those who have suffered sexual assault. There is no place in any school or in any community for those types of actions.”
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