Inside hazing

School Desk
In today’s daily newspaper, School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas described the incident involving West Florida High football players on a school bus as hazing.

The father of one of the victims, a JV football player, told the PNJ that his son was stripped and struck several times during the incident that happened earlier this month after a JV football game. The driver of the bus was a football coach, who told the father that he would report the incident to the school administration. According to the parent, that did not happen.

Three football players have been expelled from WFHS. The superintendent said that while the investigation into the students has been completed, the district is still investigating the coach.

Hazing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The athletic department has the responsibility to protect its student athletes.

On the website, Dr. Susan Lipkins answers these questions about hazing:

What is hazing? Hazing is a process, based on a tradition that is used by groups for discipline and to maintain the hierarchy (i.e., a pecking order).

Where does hazing occur? Hazing occurs in middle and high schools, as well as in colleges, the military and on the job. It occurs all over the United States and throughout the world.

Who is involved in hazing? All kinds of people are hazed. Hazing is not a function of race. Hazing is not a function of socioeconomic class. Hazing occurs among people of all educational levels.

When does hazing happen? Hazing occurs throughout the year, though there is often an increase at the beginning of the semester and at the beginning of an athletic season.

How Has Hazing Changed? In the past 10 years, hazing has become more violent, more humiliating, and more sexual. Hazardous hazing is a virus that has attacked our youth and is spreading quickly.

Dr. Lipkins lays out a blueprint for hazing:

The blueprint of hazing states that the newcomer, or victim, is hazed. Once accepted by the group, the victim becomes a bystander, and watches as others get hazed. Eventually, the bystander achieves senior status and power, and becomes a perpetrator.

They do onto others what was done to them, and they feel as though they have the right and duty to pass on the tradition. High school students pack up this blueprint and stuff it into their backpack, in order to take their hazing experience with them to college, the military and the workplace. Each hazing brings with it the possibility of a new twist. Perpetrators want to leave their mark on the tradition, and therefore they may add or change the tradition, slightly.

Superintendent Thomas and the School Board need to look deeper than three students and a bus driver. If the District is committed to stopping bullying, investigators should be looking into other hazing traditions at all its high schools.

Here the stats on High School Hazing:

  • 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year.
  • 91% of all H.S. students belong to at least one group, and half of them, 48% report being subjected to hazing activities.
  • 43% were subjected to humiliating activities and 30% performed potentially illegal acts as part of their initiation.
  • Both male and female students report high levels of hazing.
  • Every kind of high school group was involved in hazing including 24% of the students involved in church groups.
  • 10% of all college students admit to being hazed in high school.
  • 79% of the NCAA Athletes report being hazed initially in high school.
  • 25% were first hazed before the age of 13.
  • 92% of the high school students will not report a hazing, and of these respondents, 59% know of hazing activities and 21% admit to being involved in hazing.
  • 48% of the students acknowledge participating in activities which are defined as hazing, 29% did potentially illegal things to join a group, however only 14% admit to being hazed. This underscored the “disconnect” between how adults define hazing vs. how students define it.