Lake Zurich High School’s sordid history of hazing

Hazing is a practice that most people experience at some point in their life. It is usually intended as a bonding experience. Sometimes this is done in good nature, with the newcomer engaging in some silly or embarrassing practice to gain the group’s approval and admittance. Yet It often turns to more cruel activities.

Reports about hazing from fraternities to police departments to sports teams to the military show that hazing becomes a means of ritually abusing newcomers. The older and more accepted the practice, the more perverse the ritual abuse. It is quite common for hazing to take on a sexual nature, usually resulting in sexual assault.

When one thinks of these cases, one would expect to hear this coming out of university or military school. One would not expect it out of a high school. Unfortunately, this is what happened at Lake Zurich High School. Two students who played football at the school filed a lawsuit against the school district, alleging that the coaches and school officials ignored the hazing, which allegedly included forcing the boys to strip naked and sexual assault: Continue reading

Bulletin Board v203

Boy Scouts of America sued — The Boy Scouts of America’s failure to share information about known child molesters led to the sexual abuse of at least 12 Seattle-area boys over three decades, according to a lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court. The nation’s largest youth organisation failed to protect children in its care by deliberately and negligently withholding information from its local chapters about known and suspected child abusers, the civil suit alleges.

Dozens respond to police appeal in Durham child sex abuse case — More than 40 alleged victims of child sex abuse at a detention centre for teenage boys in north-east England have come forward in response to a police appeal, as part of a new investigation into serial abuse at the centre during the 1970s and 80s. Detectives from Durham received the calls within less than a week of asking for victims to come forward, following an investigation by the Guardian revealing that a prison officer at Medomsley detention centre may have abused hundreds of boys during a 17-year spell when he was in charge of the kitchens at the centre.

Ex-city councillor in Saint John, N.B., apologizes for sexually abusing boys — Donnie Snook, a former municipal politician and youth worker in New Brunswick, said Friday he can’t explain why, as a victim of child sex abuse himself, he sexually assaulted and made pornographic images of boys over a 12-year span. Snook addressed provincial court in Saint John at his sentencing hearing, apologizing for the years of “sadness and darkness” he created in the lives of 17 young kids.  Continue reading

Hazing and creating a social outcast

When we hears about hazing in sports, we tend to hear about the vicious treatment and its aftermath on the victim. We rarely hear about how it plays out in the community when the victim speak up. For one boy, it did not play out well:

At the state high-school wrestling tournament in Denver last year, three upperclassmen cornered a 13-year-old boy on an empty school bus, bound him with duct tape and sodomized him with a pencil. […]

The students were from Norwood, Colorado, a ranching town of about 500 people near the Telluride ski resort. Two of the attackers were sons of Robert Harris, the wrestling coach, who was president of the school board. The victim’s father was the K-12 principal.

After the principal reported the incident to police, townspeople forced him to resign. Students protested against the victim at school, put “Go to Hell” stickers on his locker and wore T-shirts that supported the perpetrators. The attackers later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, according to the Denver district attorney’s office.

As the article notes, this is not the first time these kinds of sexual assault hazing rituals have happened. The article reports that in 2009 a study found that 10 percent of boys reported some type of sexual assault at the hands of their peers. The hazing is not limited to junior high and high school students either. College students also face similar types of hazing.

Part of the reason it is so common is because some view it as a rite of passage: Continue reading