Hazing: the unspoken subject

Sarah Nealson, staff writer

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 Most students have heard a story about a team or a club hazing new members. We do not know if any of the stories we hear are real, since other than rumors circulating in the hallways, there are few facts about hazing incidents made available to students. If the school determines that hazing has occurred, even if students involved are over eighteen, it does not become public information in order to protect student privacy. 

Edina High School Principal Dr. Locklear defines hazing as “a situation that is threatening or uncomfortable for any person.” The Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook includes in its definition “physical brutality, any activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm, any act that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student, and any activity that causes a student to violate a law or policy.”

Dr. Susan Lipkins is a national expert on hazing. She has appeared on the “Today Show” and has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and other newspapers and magazines throughout the world. In her book, “Preventing Hazing,” she states that “in a study I conducted in 2005 with high school and college students and their parents, 83 percent thought that coaches of athletic teams have tremendous power over their students and 70 percent of the students viewed their coach as a father figure. These statistics show that coaches can have a tremendous influence on their students and teams when it comes to hazing prevention.”

Edina High School as well as the Minnesota State High School League do not require coaches or advisors to discuss hazing at any point during their season.

In 1999, Alfred University conducted the first major, large scale study about hazing in the United States. In the study, 40% of students said they would not report hazing. The top two reasons why they would not were “There is no one to talk to” and “Other kids would make my life miserable.”

According to Lipkins, “Those who break the code of silence are often ostracized, becoming pariahs in their own communities. In fact, the aftermath of hazing can be just as devastating and dangerous as the hazing itself.”

The study at Alfred University found that more than 1.5 million high school students in the United States are being subjected to some form of hazing each year.


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