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UPMC psychologist reacts to Middletown Football hazing incident

As the investigation into the football team continues, one psychologist breaks down why hazing incidents occur among students.

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — An alleged hazing incident involving the Middletown football team continues to send shockwaves throughout the district. On Friday, the school district announced that head coach Scott Acri resigned earlier in the week.

Melissa Brown, a licensed psychologist at UPMC, spoke to FOX43 about how students in sports and clubs could get wrapped up in hazing incidents.

“Particularly in high school, we’re dealing with a fairly vulnerable population," said Brown. "There’s this ideology about wanting to fit in, wanting to stand out, wanting to be popular, whatever that ideology is for them.”

Brown says that mentality could apply to both perpetrators and victims of hazing incidents, and adds that it can happen on any sports team or club. 

She says depending on the severity of the incident, victims could suffer long-lasting trauma.

“We’re talking about depression, anxiety, eating disorders," said Brown. "And of course, the big factor is the loss of trust in those adults and others around them that are there to keep them safe.”

Brown says coaches and other adult supervisors should monitor their students for any signs of potential hazing. She adds that parents also have a role to discourage their children from engaging in any hazing activities.

“Keep those conversations flowing, keep those doors open with your teen," said Brown. "As hard as it is and as often as they grunt at you, it really is important that you are their safe place that they can come to.”

The Middletown School District initially planned on releasing updated information about the hazing incident earlier Friday but postponed the release until Monday, Aug. 22nd. 

Assistant coach Rob Brodish was tabbed as the team's acting head coach, following Acri's resignation. Middletown will take on Northern York High School in a scrimmage on Saturday at 10 a.m.

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