Sayreville High School Scandal: America’s Wake-Up Call

October 17, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

America is facing a crisis of character through all facets of society.

Our character crisis is continually spotlighted with government, corporate, sports, entertainment, and even faith-based scandals.

In government, titans of influence including the former vice president’s chief of staff, governors, congressmen, and officials from every level of public service have violated positions of trust. Instead, many are now convicted felons who have been imprisoned.

The corporate world has proven that greed, self-aggrandizement, and contempt continually transform prestige to handcuffs and shackles.

Professional football players, major league baseball players, and Olympians have betrayed the public’s admiration by cheating, crimes, and misconduct.

The star-studded red carpets of Hollywood headline idolized careers continually destroyed by addictions.

A massive and pervasive character crisis has even tainted the hallowed halls of faith-based communities with sins, crimes, and cover-ups that make all of nature blush. 

Sayreville’s Character Crisis

The youth of America are not immune to our crisis of character.

At Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey, a scandal has recently paralyzed the community and wreaked havoc on many lives. The sobering realities of this scandal include:

  • Arrests of seven high school football players on aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy, criminal restraint, and hazing charges. There is a strong possibility these teens will be tried as adults and imprisonment is a possibility
  • The seven students have been suspended from school and college athletic scholarships are being lost
  • Brokenness in the lives of victims and in the entire community. Additional concerns include on-going harassment, long-term therapy, family conflicts, and ostracizing the victims and their families—who should be treated as heroes for their moral courage—by the community and fellow students
  • Failure of the entire community concerning character development and the lack of supervisory and leadership skills by the football team coaching staff 
  • The cancellation of the team’s football season that also has negative ramifications on innocent players, cheerleaders, students, and the entire Sayreville community. The suspension may also be extended beyond the current season
  • The embarrassing reinforcement to American education that bullying, hazing, and a lack of values is a reality. Tragically, character education often takes a back row to athletic accomplishments at schools and campuses nationwide.
  • Extreme challenges for normalcy and healing at the school due to a barrage of national media coverage

Be a Person of Character

Although I have been privileged to address many assemblies. My signature presentation for students, “Be a Person of Character: Change the World,” carries the paramount message.

During this presentation, I ask students to take a journey with me. A candid picture of societal challenges is painted:

  • Our Character Crisis
  • Negative Behavior and Consequences
  • Broken Families 
  • The Gang Mentality
  • America’s “Get High” Society

We then move from challenges to the power of character accentuating examples of positive behavior of America’s youth to inspire these qualities:

  • Greatness through Sacrifice
  • Living a Life of Ethical Dignity
  • Kindness, Respect, Civility, Compassion
  • Community Building
  • Bringing Out the Best in Others
  • Helping Others Do What Is Right

Developing Citizens of Character

America’s character crisis did not happen overnight. It will take generations to transform our nation and we must begin now with full-force dedication through our schools. 

Our youth must light the torch of character and keep the flame burning bright. Their energy, enthusiasm, and generosity will build a better world. The crisis of character may have its day. But in due time, the character of our youth will lift the nation.
The youth of our nation are a priceless treasure and deserve encouragement. Their families, communities, and nation entrust them with America’s future. They deserve good example and guidance to ignite a renewal of character within America.

Eyes on America’s Future

At times it can seem that the future is bleak when bombarded by one crisis after another. But America’s future is bright because of the potential of our youth. The positive influence of families and community must ignite the power of character within each of them and inspire their mission to reawakening the nation.

Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see