A sign at Uralskie Samozveti summer camp showing activities available for kids
Anapa, Russia -- In this city where the unfortunate Flight 612 departed from a few days ago, there is now another public scandal. This time the topic is so broad and common that it is hard for foreign readers to believe but easy for many Russians to dismiss: the so-called dedovschina (peer brutality and abuse). These violent habits are frequently tolerated in schoolyards and summer camps across Russia and culminate when boys grow up to be soldiers who kill and maim their comrades in the Russian army.
In this case, middle school kids from big cities were caught severely abusing their peers from small towns and suburban villages at the Uralskie Samozveti summer camp. Four teenagers were found guilty of raping 12-year-old boys, but only two teens will be held responsible. Two of the perpetrators were 14 years old; the other two are only 13! Towards the end of the session, the victimized kids were using cell phones to send SOS text messages to their parents.
One father was outraged when he first saw his son after the boy returned from three weeks at camp. The boy had lost 20 pounds in 20 days, going from 90 to 70 pounds. Some boys had visible bruises as they stepped off the train in their home towns. This time the parents will push hard for serious criminal investigations of the teenage abusers, as well as the camp counselors and administration.