Mon, Jan. 20

Hazing policy established for Camp Verde schools

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In light of recent incidents of hazing by students in America, school districts across the nation are implementing preventative hazing policies.

Recently, CNN reported that in Skokie Illinois, a judge added counts of misdemeanor battery alleging bodily harm to the charges against 15 teenagers accused in a violent hazing incident in a Chicago area park. The 12 girls and three boys were already charged with misdemeanor battery. According the CNN, two parents are charged in the incident.

The teens will be charged with misdemeanor battery, which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, said Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine. Other punishments could include probation, supervision and a $2,000 fine. A judge will determine the sentences upon conviction, according to Devine.

Further, The New York Times reported that a survey of major newspapers across the nation found 28 serious hazing incidents at high schools since the start of the last school year. Many of the cases involve beatings, sexual assaults with objects or instances in which students were restrained with duct tape. What's more, during the same period a year ago, according to the New York Times, only eight such incidents were reported.

Camp Verde Unified School District Superintendent Ron Maughan has been an educator for about 30 years.

He said hazing in public schools is something he has experienced in his youth as a student and said it was something that was just accepted to a degree, though it was more harmless in nature.

Maughan added that he realized the purpose for preventative hazing policies in today's society.

"I understand its need in light of today's society," Maughan said. "The governing board, administration and staff of Camp Verde Unified School District do no condone hazing of students in any manner. We, as do other public educational institutions in Arizona, have extensive hazing prevention policies. Our students, teachers and staff all take reasonable measures within the scope of their individual authority to prevent violations of the hazing prevention policy."

Maughan quoted an Arizona State Statute that roughly said every public educational institution in Arizona shall adopt, post and enforce a hazing prevention policy.

"School principals are making some reference to this policy," he added. "To get it into the student handbooks and the required posting of it in school buildings. This policy was probably developed around this law."

Hazing is given a humorous treatment in popular movies like the 1970s film, "Animal House." But experts say it is sometimes deadly in real life -- and 41 states have enacted laws against hazing.

The Camp Verde Unified School District's handbook defines hazing as a means of any intentional knowing or reckless act committed by a student, whether individually or in concert with another persons, against another student and that act was committed in connection with an initiation into, an affiliation with or the maintenance of membership in any organization that is affiliated with an educational institution.

And further, that hazing is an act that contributes to a substantial risk of potential physical injury, mental harm or degradation, or causes physical injury, mental harm or personal degradation.

But hazing was, years ago not a serious as pranks being pulled by today's students and times have changed, so too have the pranks.

Glenbrook North High School senior girls are shown on the video tape beating juniors and covering them with mud, paint, feces and garbage in what was originally supposed to be a "powder puff" football game, according to CNN. Five girls ended up in the hospital. 32 students who were reported to have participated in the hazing have been suspended from school.

The Associated Press reported that the 17-year-old and 18-year-old students who participated in the Illinois hazing incident will be charged as adults.

"It is simply the kind of behavior that any community cannot tolerate and will not tolerate," Devine said. "This is not what you would call a harmless prank."

Yavapai County Superintendent of Schools Paul Street, said, the Arizona School Boards Association is pushing school districts statewide to adopt preventative hazing policies into their legislation, not only to protect the students but the districts as well.

"What used to be innocent fun has been carried too far and now must be curtailed," Street said. "These issues affect small rural communities now, not just large cities. We live in such a litigious society now, if you were to visit a school in Clarkdale or Beaver Creek their manuals are three to four inches thick," he said. "That's the society we live in now."

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