Hazing News

Wichita reporter covers the Hutchison High School alleged branding

Here is the link and a short excerpt:

The charges against the three football players identify the four alleged victims only by initials and say they are 14 or 15 years old.

After the hazing case surfaced, the Hutchinson school district released a statement on Nov. 1 saying that before practice Oct. 31, Dreiling learned that a hazing incident might have occurred. “Dreiling did an initial investigation and then turned the matter over to HHS administrators and Hutchinson Police to investigate,” the statement said. Before Oct. 31, it said, “Coach Dreiling made two announcements during team meetings that hazing would not be tolerated in any form. This is the week when some freshmen move up to the varsity squad, and the coach made the announcements to make it clear hazing was not tolerated.”

In the interview Friday, Kiblinger said the coach issued the admonition against hazing, “as I believe he does each year,” because “he knows that the temptation could exist when they have the freshmen move up.”

Kiblinger said her understanding is that the alleged hazing occurred in a boys locker room.

The coat hanger allegedly used to burn the freshmen was heated by friction caused by flexing the wire, Schroeder has said.

Fee, the father who has had three sons in the football program, said, “Promoting this type of stuff (hazing) is the furthest thing from Coach Dreiling. Most of the kids over there would tell you that,” said Fee, himself a former Hutchinson player and coach and now CEO of the Fee Insurance Group.

The Kansas state law against hazing is K.S.A. 21-5418. In the criminal complaint filed in court against each of the two 18-year-olds, hazing is defined as “unlawfully and recklessly 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.”

Schroeder, the district attorney, said that under the definition of the crime of hazing, there doesn’t have to be an actual injury, “just that it was done in a manner whereby it could be reasonably expected to result” in injury.

Hank Nuwer, an Indiana journalism professor who has written four books on hazing and monitors hazing incidents around the world, said the Kansas hazing law sounds “better than most,” as far as being enforceable.

The key to defining hazing in legal terms is the recklessness or risk of the action, Nuwer said. Hazing, he said, is something “that an ordinary person would consider … risky or reckless or dangerous … and bizarre.” And the case alleged in Hutchinson seems to fit that definition, he said.

In 1924, he said, there was an incident in Brooklyn, N.Y., in which high school students used silver nitrate to brand freshmen.

Rick Wheeler, a longtime former Kansas high school football coach and now athletic director at Wichita Heights High School, said coaches have a number of motivations not to tolerate hazing or anything close to it. He said he is a friend of Dreiling, the Hutchinson coach, and isn’t commenting on the Hutchinson investigation.

For one thing, Wheeler said, “Coaches don’t have time to have goofy rituals.” And coaches hate distractions, he said. High school coaches, in particular, take seriously their responsibility to protect their athletes, he said. “You’re seen as being the guardian for (someone’s) child while they are in your care.”

Read more here:

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. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

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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