Hazing in public schools is prohibited under state law, state school board rule and local school district policy. Yet, the practice persists. Every school year, it seems, there are news accounts of a hazing incident at a Utah school. Recently, three East High School football players were arrested and charged in juvenile court after they allegedly forced down fellow players and committed sex acts on them. The players, each 15 years old, have been kicked off the team.
Coaches, East High School administrators, the school district and law enforcement have taken a tough stand against these incidents, which is commendable. These events are wholly unacceptable. Hopefully, these events and the response to them will be instructive to other students.
The East High students face charges including forcible sodomy, attempted forcible sodomy and forcible sexual abuse, which are first-degree felonies. These are serious allegations not to be dismissed by the larger community with a "boys will be boys" wink and nod.
Aside from response of school officials and law enforcement, families must play a role in reinforcing the lessons than can be learned from these incidents. Hazing rituals tend to humiliate their targets. They do not result in better teamwork or enable members of an organization to form closer bonds. Some students seek retaliation.
There may have been a time that such conduct was considered a rite of passage. Those days are long gone. Students and their parents must face this reality. Incredibly, some parents view hazing as a sign of acceptance in the "in crowd." Some parents have gone so far to complain to school administrators that their sons or daughters felt excluded because they were not targeted for hazing. Such attitudes promulgate this ridiculous conduct.
With proper supervision by school personnel, the likelihood of such events occurring on school property can be substantially reduced. More importantly, coaches, teachers, school administrators and parents must teach young people that there is no rationalization for hazing. It's abuse that for too long has been foolishly passed off in the name of "tradition."