Hazing News

What to do if you lose a child in a hazing or alcohol incident at school

If an Alcohol or Hazing Death Occurs: A Parent’s Guide

by Hank Nuwer

No parent can imagine losing a son or daughter because of an initiation done by members of your child’s club, team or other group.

Griefstricken and numb, you go ahead on automatic pilot. Consequently, many parents have made bad decisions with their child’s body that they later regret. Or they’ve expected a college, school administrator, coach, music director, regional fraternity alumni, or national fraternity/sorority to do the right thing and were let down. Or time passed and a cover-up ensued.
These are the minimum things you need to do if the worst happens.

1) Insist that police investigate and save all party paraphernalia as evidence if needed.
2) Get the time and place of the post-mortem exam and be represented by counsel and a doctor there.
3) Have your attorney learn all that he or she can about any inquest that gets scheduled. Be sure your attorney questions witnesses at that inquest.
4) You have the right to see your child’s body before he or she gets shipped to a mortuary.
5) Insist on the right for a private post mortem if a coroner’s (or pathologist’s) credentials seem very unimpressive or if you do not concur with the findings.
6) Be sure to order the post mortem report.
7) If it occurs at school, demand to know if there will be a judicial hearing.
8) If the school has not contacted police, do so yourself. Campus police may investigate, but they lack the resources and (usually) experience of state police.
9) Ask the vice president for student affairs for any disciplinary reports available regarding the group your son or daughter tried to join.
10) Ask the coroner and pathologist which records are public record and which medical records may be kept private.
11) Search your child’s belongings for such evidence of abuse as pledge books, bloody clothing (from beatings, paddline, caning), illegal substances.

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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer, former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird, finished a stint as managing editor of the Celina Daily Standard to accept a new position as 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--

Leave a Reply

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