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WHAT OTHERS SAY: Hazing cannot be ignored or tolerated

Friday, December 23, 2011 | 12:38 p.m. CST; updated 1:35 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Army is taking seriously accusations that fellow soldiers brutalized a 19-year-old private until he killed himself in the Afghanistan outpost where he was stationed.

The hazing that Pvt. Danny Chen suffered unfortunately isn't rare among military units around the world, but those actions are illegal in the branches of American military service.

And bringing charges against eight soldiers, one of whom is an officer, speaks to an active effort to stop the violence.

Few of us understand the stress that goes along with today's military. Only those who have been deployed to far-away battlegrounds can describe the situation.

But any reasonable person must admit that our men and women in uniform have not only the duty to protect the rest of us but also a fierce obligation to protect one another.

Teens and young adults have been "hazed" as long as boarding schools and colleges have been around. So many people downplay the effects of schoolyard bullying, however, the practice separates the few from the many.

Those who are hazing often choose those who are presumed weak or those from minority populations. Today, Asian-Americans make up only a small portion of America's military, and studies show they too often are the victims of violence.

In Manhattan in October, Chen's family learned of his death. They already had inklings of what he'd experienced, and more details emerged from his diary.

It is long past time to look the other way when anyone is mistreated in homes, schools, workplaces and the military.

We are glad to see that the Army has pressed charges, but Chen's death shows there is more work to be done.

We send our service members overseas to fight in armed conflicts, not against their own.

Copyright Springfield News-Leader. Reprinted with permission.


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