Hazing News

How to prevent high school hazing in athletics, etc.: Hank Nuwer & Justin Rodriguez (of the Times-Record)

Moderator: Proud to be in two articles today written by award-winning reporter Justin Rodriguez of the Times-Record in New York.

  • Author Hank Nuwer offers pointers on preventing hazing.


  • By Justin Rodriguez
  • Times Herald-Record
    Posted Nov. 9, 2014 @ 7:00 am

    Hank Nuwer, a professor of journalism at Franklin College in Indiana, has been described as a crusader when it comes to stopping hazing. He authored four books on the topic, including, “High School Hazing: When Rites Become Wrongs.” Nuwer offers these tips to stop the growing problem:

    • Help establish welcome programs for first-year and transfer students. Rites of passage are integral and valuable in welcoming new members to a group or students to a school; but mentoring programs are more constructive than pledging rituals.

    • Reconsider all traditions in all school groups. The school choir is just as likely as the football team to have its own traditions. Faculty members need to be aware of what goes on in each group.

    • Urge your school to adopt a statement of awareness. Signing a written statement agreeing to a specific policy raises awareness of hazing and instills a sense of accountability in all participants.

    • Foster a spirit of camaraderie. A form of hazing includes having younger students perform chores such as carrying equipment. Everyone should share in these responsibilities to create better team spirit.

    • Require supervision at all group functions. Simply having an adult or teacher present at all times can go a long way toward deterring hazing and preventing groups of kids from getting out of hand.

    • Don’t cover up hazing incidents. A “conspiracy of silence” often feeds off itself and becomes difficult to stop. If an episode of hazing is witnessed, it should be reported immediately so it can be dealt with immediately.

    • Eliminate the risk of hazing. Only a zero-tolerance attitude will create an environment in which hazing is unacceptable. Letting episodes slide is counter-productive to stopping hazing.

     The second article by Justin Rodriguez can be read here. You need to register (free available) for the full article.


On Oct. 17, Monroe-Woodbury canceled its remaining two JV football games because of alleged bullying incidents in the form of racial slurs and homophobic comments made by players and directed toward teammates. Town of Woodbury police continue to investigate the alleged hazing.

And just last week, Eldred’s varsity football team forfeited its final game because of alleged widespread and pervasive hazing, which was sexual in nature. Eldred Superintendent Robert Dufour said an investigation into the incidents is ongoing.

The transgressions at Monroe-Woodbury and Eldred came to light soon after more sensational cases of hazing involving football teams in Sayreville, N.J. and Central Bucks West, Pa. Both allegedly involved sexual assault. Seven Sayreville students were arrested for their involvement in the scandal.

“The cases of hazing seem to be multiplying,” said Hank Nuwer, a national expert on the topic and author of “High School Hazing: When Rites Become Wrongs,” and three other books on hazing. “When is it going to stop? Nobody has a handle on it, no one. It seems to get worse, but educators and administrators seem to try to get rid of it without any public fuss or attention. It’s definitely problematic.”

The incidents at Monroe-Woodbury and Eldred, which both schools self-reported, have caught the attention of Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler. Hoovler will fast-track “Uncommon Athlete” — a program he planned on introducing to local schools. A group called Rachel’s Challenge and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation came together to start the “Uncommon Athlete” program, uniting to empower young athletes to serve as positive influences on and off the field because of their status as school leaders.

Ripken is the late manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Rachel Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo., on April 20, 1999. Scott’s dad, Darrell, and stepmom, Sandy, started Rachel’s Challenge in 2001 after seeing the impact Rachel’s life had on people who heard her story. The foundation aims to make schools safer, more connected places where bullying and isolation are replaced with kindness and respect.

“We definitely want to have programs like this in place after what happened,” Hoovler said. “As the district attorney, the way I look at it, the more kids that are involved in sports, there are less on the street. It fits right in with the crime prevention model. Bullying happens every day, everywhere, in all schools. We are more aware because we are seeing it, and education is the cornerstone in making a difference.”

Dufour would not discuss the status of Eldred’s probe this week, forwarding a Times Herald-Record reporter to a statement from him on the school district’s website, which read in part:

“Young adults can sometimes make poor choices, but that does not mean that they are bad people. However, when horseplay crosses the line into hazing, it’s up to the adults – parents, teachers, administrators and community members – to step in and provide guidance and support. I encourage you as parents to talk with your children about the hazards of hazing, as we are doing through our assemblies and winter student-athlete meetings.”

Town of Woodbury Police Chief Richard Vasquez declined to speak specifically about his department’s probe, but said: “If hazing did occur, and we’re not sure if it did, it goes against what sports are about. Sports should be about bonding and working together. If anything unacceptable was going on, anything criminal, we will handle it.”

Monroe-Woodbury Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez said she will continue to work closely with police until the investigation’s conclusion.

Coaches who are non-teachers must take a six-hour course on the subject, according to Robert Zayas, the executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. The curriculum is part of the certification for teachers who coach.

In July 2012, the state’s Dignity for All Students Act took effect. It expanded the concepts of tolerance, respect for others and dignity to include: an awareness and sensitivity in the relations of people, including but not limited to, different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, gender identity, and sexes.

“I think we always have to be aware of what’s going on out there. But now we have to be more diligent than ever to monitor the behavior of kids,” Zayas said. “I think that what’s been going on lately is scary and alarming. One of the dangers of hazing is that it gets worse and worse each year. At first, people might think it’s kids being kids. But these acts can get worse and worse over time, starting freshman year a lot of times.”

Asked if schools are doing enough to prevent hazing and raise awareness about it, Zayas said yes, but that the trend needs to be monitored closely.

According to Nuwer, a journalism professor at Franklin College in Indiana, perpetrators haze because they crave a position of power, feel that the victim must go through some kind of initiation to be part of a team or group, and may even find humor in the practice.

– See more at:


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.