In late August, we had duck abusers at a KHS football camp, and their actions were video recorded and posted on the internet. Such actions spiral to media sensations in our current information age. Particulars of how the sickening event came to pass are directly known only to those who were there.

I am not excusing the behaviors. I do know it is not my place to judge, and I trust that the varsity football coach, the athletic director, the principal and the superintendent spent much time and consideration on the punishments, corrective measures and teaching opportunities to arise from this grievous mistake by juveniles. Not that it matters, but I am not particularly a fan of football.

The critiques of the punishments, or perceived mildness thereof, are exceedingly presumptuous. Several recent letter writers to this paper and social media posters, presume to act as judge, jury and sentencing experts.

I speak for none of these organizations for which I have served in this community: Conway School Board, 2011-2017; Starting Point (Carroll County Against Domestic Violence), board member, March 2019-present; KHS varsity soccer coach and social studies teacher,1979-1994, and countless other coaching, teaching, volunteer and officiating positions in this valley and school districts from Tamworth to Jackson; pet owner and outdoor enthusiast; supporter and infrequent volunteer to the Conway Area Humane Society and dad to a frequent CAHS volunteer.

Having had considerable experience with kids up to the age of 18 years, I guarantee that there are all sorts of variables which the duck abusers brought to the lake that night. I have little doubt that there is some responsibility and opportunity to examine the entire culture of the football program. It would not be unique. I am aware that some former KHS soccer players behaved as bullies to certain team members at a KHS soccer camp in the 1980s. I recall that as a 6-year-old, I fried an ant to death with a magnifying glass on my driveway — it seemed like a cool thing to do — as my older brother had just done it.

The duck abuse case which occurred at KHS preseason overnight football camp is sickening. Lots of what happens in life is appalling. The measure of our values as a community, as educators, individuals and citizens, is not only what we do in times of adversity, but also how and why we respond to it.

Educators, coaches and administrators have made their responses to the immediate case. It is their role now to follow through with the established punishments and rehabilitative educational pieces. And to those community members who feel this is not enough, continue to shine a light on all cruelty and injustice, and most importantly, be engaged in events and opportunities to assure such acts do not recur in the future, anytime, anywhere, or under any circumstances.

To those who engaged in the abuse which led to eventual death of that duck: examine your hearts, souls and minds, that you may grow to become more compassionate, loving community members with an abiding respect for the dignity of all life, including humans, animals and the very earth itself.

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