Some believe that the rights of passage to any organization is found in proving yourself worthy to belong. Growing up involves many trials and tribulations, which sometimes includes being humiliated or doing something outside your comfort level. In the past, college sororities and fraternities would engrain the seriousness of their organizational participation through a process called “hazing.” The definition, severity, and consequences of hazing has been the source of debate at the post high school level for years. A new anti-hazing law may now target those who haven’t yet sent in their college applications.
High school students in Pennsylvania can now be legally charged criminally for hazing their peers. The decision to add hazing to the criminal code is due to the rash of local high-profile incidents in the Philadelphia area. Although once only available as an offense in college cases, Governor Wolf recently signed a bill making the law about hazing apply to students attending seventh through twelfth grade. Starting next year, those who are found hazing their younger cohorts could now face criminal charges.
The reason for the inclusion are the incidents related to Chester County’s Conestoga High School where hazing has become not only problematic but dangerous. The law not only targets public schools, it requires that private schools draft their own rules and regulations to follow along with state mandatory initiatives. The law requires all sports coaches to provide a copy of policies to the members who participate as well as posting them on public sites.
A third-degree misdemeanor, hazing is no longer a matter of going a little overboard. There is a possibility that jail time may be included and if a student is convicted of hazing, any student may be subjected to probation, fines and being suspended. It is also possible that the school may provide their own sanctions such as withholding transcripts enabling students the ability to apply for college, or diplomas, in some cases. It is also possible for high schools to add expulsion to the list of possible punishment for hazing fellow students.
To make the faculty aware, the Pennsylvania School Board Association, and a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, has decimated information about the law and how it is to be enforced and the measures that educators may take to ensure that hazing becomes a thing of the past. Many feel that it is about more than embarrassment, due to recent events, it is about saving lives and making sure that high school and college students are safe and that no organization pushes the boundaries of acceptability.
Seeing the brutality of hazing in many sports teams at the high school level, coaches have asked for the law to be generalized beyond just college. Fearing the degradation of the mental and physical state of high school athletes, many who deal with them, have asked for stricter punishment and laws that allow them to step in when safety is compromised. They also want the right to monitor abuse that many lower class man face when joining a sports team.
The Central Bucks School District in 2014 canceled the entire season and fired the head coach when it was discovered that he allowed younger players to engage in activities that were inappropriate such as touching teammate’s genitals and demanding that the junior class man cover the elder’s genitalia with powder. There comes a point where it isn’t about hazing, but about sexual abuse, and someone needs to step in.
Anyone who has gone through a fraternity or been a part of a team may think that you have to pay your dues to belong. There are times, however, when paying your dues is nothing but abuse and degradation that are nothing more than damaging. Belonging to any group should not come at the compromise of your integrity or your self-esteem.
It has long been known that the nonsense that goes on in colleges, and the treatment that pledges are subjected to, is nothing short of inhumane. It is about time that someone protects those who can’t protect themselves. This law is the first of its kind to consider those who are truly indefensible. Not yet, adults, it is an excellent attempt to ensure that high school is a time to remember fondly, not try to forget forever.