High school students are facing discipline after a controversial photo during a football game went viral.
Four students at Westside High School in South Carolina took a photo that showed them spelling "RAPE" with pink letters painted on their chests. The photo, which was posted to Snapchat, came with the caption "what we do to Daniel," which was in reference to that night's rival team, DW Daniel High School, according to USA Today.
The four students were part of a larger group that had painted their chests to spell out "BUMP CANCER" in support of the Touchdowns Against Cancer program in high school football across the country.
"It's kind of ironic that they went there painted for a good cause and because they didn't think through everything this happened," said Anderson District Five Superintendent Tom Wilson to WHNS.
Wilson said the incident has pressed school officials to remind their students that images posted to social media, even ones that are not intended to be permanent, can have lasting and unintended consequences.
"This is what can happen to a situation where students made a bad decision but once it gets on social media, it gets ramped up and it really spreads like wildfire," Wilson said. "The four have been dealt with. And they're very remorseful, their parents understand that their intent was not to offend."
Wilson said the boys were not expelled but had been disciplined in an appropriate manner. He also mentioned that the four students were good students and cooperative, making a brief error in judgment.
Some felt the boys' actions should be punished more severely, considering the content of their joke.
"The fact that rape jokes and those types of things are tolerated in many ways and the fact that students would feel confident or safe enough to do something like that at a family-friendly high school football game also speaks volumes to the way that these teenage boys think about it," said Shauna Galloway-Williams, director of the Julie Valentine Center. The nonprofit center offers confidential services to victims of sexual assault.
"This is not acceptable anywhere and anytime," said Kyle Newton, director of external affairs for the school district, reports USA Today. "At best, this is offensive to just about anyone, and at worst this is traumatic to some people."
Newton said he would not reveal the students' identities or the nature of their punishments but noted they had already been revealed on social media.