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Star Phoenix: Disturbing hazing practices in hockey still around in spit eof efforts to control

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Take stand against hazing: hockey official

By Lana Haight, The StarPhoenixSeptember 6, 2009 9:09 AMBe the first to post a comment

Nothing short of a culture shift will stop hazing incidents among teenagers, says the head of the Saskatchewan Hockey Association.

“We have to educate 15- to 20-year-olds,” said Kelly McClintock, general manager of the association.

“We have to change parents’ behaviour towards this, too.”

Hockey teams used to have a reputation for hazing new players, but several years ago, the national and provincial associations that govern minor hockey took a stand against it.

McClintock acknowledges that hazing still happens, but not as often as it used to, in part because of the leadership coming from adults who are coaching and managing the teams.

“The vast majority of people now think, ‘It wasn’t right what I did or what was done to me and I’m going to ensure that it’s not right now.’ ”

That’s the culture shift McClintock is talking about, which is contrary to the thinking that used to be pervasive in the hockey community.

“As young players moving up, you thought you had to go through with it because the older players went through it. And the older players had to do it because they went through it. It was just the culture,” said McClintock.

Hazing, as defined by Hockey Canada, is “an initiation practice that may humiliate, demean, degrade or disgrace a person,” even if the person agrees to the initiation.

“It doesn’t matter if it happens in a hockey rink or in a home or in a school,” said McClintock.

Hazing is not part of the culture in the Turtleford area, insists an administrator for Northwest School Division.

“I’m concerned about the young people in that community painted by those who make bad decisions and do stupid things. I don’t think that’s fair to the other students,” said Glen Winkler, the division’s director of education.

A year ago, at least one teenage boy from the area received a beating with a two-by-four on his bare buttocks as part of an initiation into high school, according to his mother, who cannot be named because, as a youth, her son’s identity is protected.

“Both cheeks, he had welts the size of a fist on each cheek and that’s apparently acceptable,” said the mom.

The incident caused such a stir in the community that the principal of the school brought in the RCMP. He was concerned that what had happened at a party on the weekend might carry over the next week at school.

“There was a general assembly. The principal and the staff sergeant both spoke to the students and the principal went around to the classrooms and spoke to the students, tried to prevent it from happening again,” said Winkler.

“That was the focus of the conversation — whatever happens outside the school stays outside the school. We need to keep an eye on the students and how they react to one another and how they behave toward one another.”

The teenager who was paddled was charged last month with sexual assault for a “prank” that he and five of his friends allegedly pulled on another teenage boy, who had passed out at a party in March 2009. The six accused allegedly pulled down the 15-year-old boy’s pants and stuck a beer bottle up the boy’s anus.

The mother has since learned of other “pranks” teenagers have played on others who pass out after drinking too much. Her son told her that he had been “tea-bagged,” the term used to describe boys rubbing their genitals over the face of someone who has passed out. At another party, a teenage boy shoved a ping-pong ball in a boy’s anus.

“There’s no line. They don’t know the boundaries,” said the mother.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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