SCHOOL HAZING INCIDENTS
Franklin Seminary (Kentucky)
John Butler Groves died in a hazing incident, according to a family history. The school’s records were destroyed in an unrelated fire. This is the information I was able to come up with using public grave and ancestry searches–Moderator Hank Nuwer.
A Hazleton, Pennsylvania High School School hazing
Newspapers across the country reported that the son of Edward Turnbach died of injuries from a beating administered by fellow students on September 19. The boy had to run between two lines of boys that struck him as he went by. Here is what the Harrisburg Telegraph from September 21, 1885 reported. Moderator: I am trying to get the name of the dead boy and will post when I get it. Moreover, for that matter I hope to find a reputable record of death to verify that the boy actually died in 1885 (given the frequent press errors of the day)–Hank Nuwer July 20, 2019: Ancestry.com lists Edward’s youngest son as Malon Turnbach, but I continue to search for 100 percent verification.
Decatur High School, Illinois
High School Physical Hazing According to Wikipedia and the Logansport Pharos-Tribune, freshman David C. Jones was one of several boys thrown over a fence. A battle royal ensued. Jones died a few days later of a spinal injury.
Lawrenceville, New Jersey High School
Hazing (a form of physical hazing known locally as piling)
Martin V. Bergen, son of Councilman Peter V. Bergen, of this place, died from injuries received at a hazing at Lawrenceville. He died of inflammation of the bowels. Young Bergen was twelve years old and a freshman at Lawrenceville. He was being put through the initiation when one of the hazers accidentally fell upon him. [Source: Columbus Daily Enquirer, November 23, 1899]; Harrisburg Telegraph, November 23, 1899]. View a clipping here
Charleston, S. C
Porter Military Academy (South Carolina)
Accident during hazing.
No punishment despite death. “Charleston, S. C, Nov. 5. Thomas Finley Brown, 12, Is dead from injuries received while being hazed at tho Porter military academy last Monday. Brown was now at the academy and the older boys, following their former custom, dropped him Into a cemented swimming basin 12 feet deep. The basin was dry at the time and tho lad received internal injuries from the fall. Before he died he did not give the names of the cadets who had mistreated him, and It Is said no action will be taken In the matter. Source: Evening Bulletin, Maysville, Kentucky”
[Above: The Blaine [Kansas] News, November 9, 1900
High School Club Initiation
Member Lee Watson was electrocuted by a live wire he was about to shock a new member with. The Buffalo (NY) Enquirer, March 26, 1902.]
Bluffton High School (Indiana)
Ten young men went on trial following the death of “L of S.S.B” recruit Ralph McBride. While McBride was hazed, his death of sepsis occurred five months later. A criminal trial failed to show the death definitely was linked to McBride’s hazing, according to the Indianapolis Journal of December 27, 1903.
Bullying and Torture
Three preteen males decided to pick on 9 year-old Ralph Canning by having him perform mock hazing acts such as sitting and standing on heated rocks. They then physically attacked and tortured him. Canning died of his injuries. The three were Alva Day, 11; Raymond Adams, 10; Raymond Waterman, 9. The boys told police they were trying to haze
Rawson School (Findlay, Ohio)
Alleged Schoolboy hazing
I have confirmed that Freddie Fillwock died. A newspaper account reported that he suffered multiple injuries as a result of striking his head and subsequent piling on during an initiation. –Moderator. See online The Leavenworth Times, “Hazing Results in Death,” April 6, 1904. Headstone link.
Culver Military Academy (Indiana)
Disputed death, hazing or illness?
A father claimed death of his son Edward Beery was caused by hazing. Although 13 members of the class were expelled, the school said it would never cover up and that the direct cause of death was tonsillitis.
New Salem, Indiana
Vernon A. Walker, 16, took his own life by shooting himself.
Boyhood hazing (likely bullying in today’s language)
Blood poisoning due to injury Merrill A. Putnam, 8, died after older boys repeatedly slammed him to the ground in a prank they called the “Royal Bumps.”
1936 Death (Injury incurred in 1934)
Miami-Dade High School
Iota Phi fraternity Physical hazing
According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (February 25, 1936), sophomore Taylor Lewis succumbed of injuries incurred two years earlier in a hazing initiation. The school ordered an end to all fraternities and sororities.
Unspecified Modesto high school
Hazing (kidnapping or ride)
A car carrying two kidnapped high school pledges hit a rut and overturned. Robert James, 15, died, and Ted Hanky, 15, was injured. Source: Bakersfield Californian, January 16, 1937.
Highmore High School (S. Dakota)
Athletic hazing, Lettermen’s Club:
Hazing by electrocution
Gerald De Gooyer, 20, a multi-sport athlete was killed by an initiation requiring him to sustain an electric shock.
Berkeley High School
Auto crash as upperclassmen chased newcomers
About 30 members were involved in a hazing of a high school club that seems to have all or most members situated
in California high schools. One carload of boys flipped and went off an embankment. James Ristenpart died. Three were injured.
High school hazing and St. Norbert’s College (Wisconsin)
High school hazing with college students present: Death from nephritis (but disputed by D.A.)
Wayne Rogers, assaulted by at least seven older students, died on his first day in a senior high school. He succumbed after his parents asserted the hazers had taken “indecent liberties” with him. The attending physician ruled he died of nephritis caused by a blow but District Attorney Elmer R. Honkamp dismissed any connection between Rogers’s death
Yakima High School (Washington State); Moxee School District
Moxeee Letterman’s Club
Paddling and dunking of new members wearing burlap sacks; under supervision of a coach
Henry Allen Sherwood, Jr., the unlucky one of 16 initiates, drowned wearing a burlap sack after submitting to a paddling. Head football coach Donald L. (Don) Smith was present and overseeing the paddling and subsequent tragedy. School officials took no swift action in the week following the death, and Smith and up to 40 players were questioned by a prosecutor. As would be commonplace over time, the death was ruled accidental. The parents sued, lost, and won an appeal charging the Moxee school district with negligence that sent the case to trial. News Clipping here.
Important: See judgments by Washington State Supreme Court re school responsibility.
Allegheny High School
Football Hazing, Suicide
Richard Metz, 17, was being attacked by two older football players in a hazing. They tried cutting off his ducktail style hair. Metz shot one of the young men, injuring him with a .22 pistol. Afraid of being sent to a correctional institution, Metz turned the weapon on himself and died in September of 1962.
Charleston High School (West Virginia)
Band Hazing Alleged beating death
Long before the more famous deadly hazing of Robert Champion in a Florida A & M band hazing, high school band members accused of administering a fatal “pink belly” beating to 15-year-old newcomer Michael Murphy in a hazing were let go by a court and acquitted, according to the Spokane Daily Chronicle (October 18, 1963).
Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Athletic hazing: Drowning
Lamonte R. Jenkins died of drowning after being tossed into water near West Chester, according to New York Times and the Hazleton Standard-Speaker.
Recent links below:
Update: The arrogance of St. Ignatius
Cleveland’s St. Ignatius lacrosse team out of tournament because of hazing with alcohol. The school’s press release is disturbing.
Orange Grove, Texas police have video in arrests
Frankenmuth, MI football inquiry
Outrage in South Carolina
Breaking on Jan 31: Football player pleads guilty
Al Jazeera: Sports Hazing — Video
De La Salle victim stays shut lipped
Lavernia High School pleas.
Montgomery High School (Texas)
Hidden hazing danger: summer and sports camps
A Heart-wrenching Look at Bullying and Hazing (Starts at 2 minute and 25 second mark).
Read the Washington Post interview with Hank Nuwer
WILLIAMS Why does hazing exist in high school sports? Does it satisfy some sort of innate need for a rite of passage?
NUWER It gives students a combination of things they’re looking for at that age: the need for a lark, the immersion in secrecy with their peers, a passage from liminal space where they went from not being a member of a group to becoming a member of a group, and then the fact there is a kind of . . . rite of passage associated with hazing and initiations in school that has kind of a romance to it. INTERVIEW BELOW AT LINK
Preston Williams. “Abuse Survives in a Haze of Mixed Messages about Teamwork.” The Washington Post, February 12, 2009, Pg. PG10,
Read Hank’s interviews with New York Times, NPR, Chronicle of Higher Education, etc.