Hazing News

Debbie Smith posting on water intoxication deaths following radio “contest”

Good Morning Everyone

In the wake of the senseless death of Jennifer Strange, a name I hope is not soon forgotten; the doors have opened, once again through the media, to bring awareness to the horrors of water intoxication, hazing, and Matt’s Law. This is the last thing we wanted to happen. The reason we have worked so hard was to prevent this from happening again, yet here it is in our own backyard no less.

This is a heartbreaking story of a family that must go on without their loved one, and for what? Because some people made light of a situation that has been in the news for the past 2 years. They knew better but went ahead and did it anyway. We have to do our best to educate those that don’t know, so that they won’t be at risk by those who just don’t care.

As news reporters, in and out of the area, are contacting me, they are not only asking about water intoxication but Matt’s Law as well. All the networks have been running stories about what happened to Matt and his law when talking about Jennifer.

Court TV will be running a segment about Matt’s Law and water intoxication tonight on the Catherine Crier Live Show (check your local listings for times and channels, it’s on from 5 to 6pm in most areas). I hope you will be able to tune in, but more importantly tell others, those that may need to be educated. I will be there with the fabulous Alex Grab, who wrote Matt’s Law for us, and our wonderful Senator Torlakson who sponsored it.

As human beings, I believe we are morally obligated to share our experiences, knowledge, and lessons learned in life with others, no matter how difficult, so that they can make safe informed decisions in their lives. We need to take every opportunity given us to share what we know with others. I hope when the time arises that you are all able to do this as well, don’t be afraid to speak up, your words could quite possibly save a life.

After Matt’s Law was signed, someone approached me from the Every 15 Minutes program about telling Matt’s story. I think this is an incredible opportunity because in telling Matt’s story, our young people can learn three valuable lessons. They can learn about hazing, water intoxication, and Matt’s Law. Another place I think would be great to start educating our young children about water intoxication is the DARE program, that is already implemented in our elementary schools. What better time to teach our children the dangers of excess water then when they are learning about other dangers in life. Every 15 Minutes – Someone dies from an Alcohol Related Collision

Out of concern, many of you have asked what we are doing on February 2nd. After work on Thursday, February 1st, Greg and I are going up to Chico to be where Matt spent his last night alive and early the morning of the 2nd we are going to lay flowers and light candles in Matt’s memory at the house where he took his last breathe. We are coming home on the 2nd to be with Travis and having Matt’s friends over for dinner. We will fill the house inside and out with candles in Matt’s memory. Feel free to bring a candle by that night if you’d like.

“Hug your children and tell them you love them everyday.”

Debbie, MM

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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