Hazing News

May 2008 Hazing News: summary

Recent Hazing News and Links: 2008

Kansas Law enforced

Augusta, Kan. –
Link and story:

The Augusta Department of Public Safety and members of Augusta Unified School District 402 are dedicated to supporting the Kansas Statute 21-3434 which safeguards citizens from promoting or permitting hazing acts.
Why must Augusta enforce this law?
“Hazing is not only humiliating and embarrassing for the victims, but it is abusive and can be life-threatening,” reports Chief Tyler Brewer.
The chief also maintains, “82 percent of deaths reported from acts of hazing have involved the use of alcohol.Hazing is common during the end of the school year and often students are not aware of this law.”
Brewer adds, “We have had instances with hazing in the past, and we want the community to know that we intend to enforce the hazing law, or any law related to assault and battery, in order to protect all citizens in our community.”
21-3434.   Promoting or permitting hazing. (a) No social or fraternal organization shall promote or permit hazing.
(b)   Hazing is intentionally, coercing, demanding or encouraging another person to perform as a condition of membership in a social or fraternal organization, any act which could reasonably be expected to result in great bodily harm, disfigurement or death or which is done in a manner whereby great bodily harm, disfigurement or death could be inflicted.
(c)   Promoting or permitting hazing is a class B non-person misdemeanor.
(d)   This section shall be part of and supplemental to the Kansas criminal code.

Hazing is recognized as, “initiation” or “random acts” which can range from verbal to physical abuse, is defined as, “any action or situation, with or without the consent of the participants, which recklessly, intentionally, or unintentionally endangers the mental, physical, or academic health or safety of a student.

Massachusetts story below
BOSTON — A Northbridge middle school baseball coach lost his job because of an anonymous complaint that he was allegedly hazing his players.

NewsCenter 5’s Rhondella Richardson reported Thursday that some of the kids on the team are coming to Coach Bean Bennett’s defense.

Authorities may have closed San Sebastian incident but Florida father has plenty to say.
The longer this Sebastian River High School hazing story stays in the news — and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon — the more everybody wants to know.

They want to know what really happened March 31 in that hotel room in Plantation, where the Sharks baseball team was staying overnight while playing in a spring-break tournament at Nova Southeastern University.

They want to know if the raunchy rumors are true, if a group of players really would do something so demeaning and repugnant to a teammate, if this despicable behavior is part of some barbaric culture in which the baseball program operates.

They also want to know why the victim and his family haven’t pursued criminal charges against the perpetrators.

So I did what a newspaperman is supposed to do.

I tried to find out.

But not much is coming out of Sebastian River or the Indian River County school district these days.

I’ve been waiting weeks for Sebastian River principal Peggy Jones to return my calls. When I leave messages for schools superintendent Harry La Cava, schools spokesperson Patty Vasquez calls back.

And when she does, all we hear is, “The investigation is ongoing”— even though two coaches and five players already have been suspended and the lawyers for three of those players have brokered a plea bargain that resulted in what amounts to semi-expulsions.

(The players agreed to accept the punishment that usually accompanies expulsion but it won’t appear on their official school records.)

The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office also conducted an investigation, looking into anonymous tips about other hazing incidents involving the Sebastian River baseball team, but detectives shut it down when they failed to get any cooperation from possible witnesses, suspects and victims.

That left me with no other option.

So I went to the family.

I called the victim’s father and, across the past several days, we’ve talked about the incident. He was reluctant at first, and understandably so. This is a difficult and delicate situation involving a minor.

(For that reason, neither the teenage victim nor his family will be identified by name here.)

But over the course of a few phone conversations, I won his trust and convinced him that we were on the same side, that we wanted the same thing — to make sure something like this never happens again at Sebastian River, or anywhere else on the Treasure Coast.

Truth is, if a similar hazing incident involving the Sebastian River baseball team eight years ago had gotten this much media coverage, the March 31 attack might never have happened.

It’s no coincidence, then, that the parents of the target in the 2000 hazing recently spent three hours in the home of the parents of the victim in this latest hazing, sharing their stories and talking about how to handle the aftermath.

“From what I can tell, these incidents are more isolated in nature,” the latest victim’s father said. “It’s not something that’s done annually or regularly. You just have a couple of individuals who go off and are doing unspeakable things. It runs its course, then it’s over with.

“I have another son in the program, and he’s told us he’s never seen it and never taken part in anything like that. So it’s not rampant. But it’s still not acceptable, either.”

No criminal charges were filed eight years ago. And the punishment imposed by the school district was surprisingly light, amounting to nothing more than brief suspensions.

The only meaningful byproduct of that case was the implementation of a district-wide, anti-hazing policy that, obviously, doesn’t work as well as it should.

The father of the victim in this case wants something more.

“There needs to be something more than having a meeting at the beginning of the season and having the kids read the handbook, then telling them and the parents to sign it,” he said. “I don’t think they know what it really means, nor do they give it much thought.”

He’s hoping that, as a result of the attention given to this incident, the school will be more proactive in combating hazing.

He’s also hoping the school district will, in addition to banishing the perpetrators to the county’s Alternative Learning Center until next winter, ban them from playing baseball at Sebastian River next year.

“We’re waiting to see how this will be handled here, and there are still some open-ended things that haven’t been finalized yet,” the father said. “We live here. Our kids go to school here. We’d rather see the school here take care of it. But the jury is still out.”

And if the family isn’t satisfied with the outcome?

“Then,” he said, “serious decisions have to be made.”

One of those decisions is whether to file a complaint with the Plantation Police Department, which has jurisdiction over this case and already has received background information from the IRCSO.

The father said the family has no plans to go to the police and pursue criminal charges against the perpetrators.

“Up to now, we have none,” he said. “That’s a big step, and we have no idea what we’re going to do yet. We’re keeping our legal options open.”

He wouldn’t say if another one of those options involved filing lawsuits.

Nor would he divulge what his son said happened in that hotel room, saying only that it was worse than horseplay and wrestling.

“When all is said and done, though, I think there are some aspects to this that need to be looked into,” the father said. “Things like secrecy, shame, intimidation, fear. Those things all come into play.”

Still, he said his son hasn’t changed or backed away from his story.

His son remained on the team, wants to continue playing baseball and keeps going to school.

“He has been living with this for more than a month now,” the father said. “And, believe me, everyone who has any interest in this knows who he is and has heard about what happened. But he seems to be doing OK.”

So there it is.

I still can’t tell you what really happened in that hotel room.

But now, at least, you know why.

Oregon: Hazing documents revealed by KGW

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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