Archive for Wednesday, May 8, 2002

Disturbing behavior

May 8, 2002


However local students got the idea that hazing activities were fun or acceptable, they now should be given the clear message that such behavior won't be tolerated.

Young people entertaining themselves by demeaning or embarrassing other young people isn't anything new. Unfortunately, it's gone on probably since the beginning of time.

But reports emanating this week from Lawrence's two high schools are nonetheless disturbing and deserve the attention not only of school officials but of parents and other members of the community.

Local seniors, nearing the end of their high school years, often are involved in various misconduct that often are dismissed as harmless pranks. This year, those pranks reportedly aren't so harmless and involve actions that might meet the legal definition of kidnapping or assault. Parents of sophomores have reported their children have been subjected to such activities as having their heads forcibly shaved or being sent through a paddle line manned by seniors wielding 2-by-4s. One student may have suffered a broken tailbone in the latter incident.

These actions should not be anyone's idea of a good time. School officials are right to take a no-nonsense approach to these reports. At least 15 seniors have been suspended, and Supt. Randy Weseman said Monday that hazing wouldn't be tolerated. Another district official said the decision had been made to pursue disciplinary measures in any incident whether or not it occurred on school time or school property. Reports, properly, will be forwarded to police for possible legal action.

Along with reports of injurious behavior, property damage also has been involved. Parents have reported that cars and houses have been egged and cars have been attacked with paint guns and had taillights destroyed. While property damage certainly is deplorable, it's not as disturbing as the abusive treatment of fellow students.

The incidents that have been reported in Lawrence have a mean, even sadistic tone that should get the attention of parents and others who too easily dismiss senior pranks as a matter of "boys will be boys" or "girls will be girls." Parents, as well as the rest of the community, should send a strong message that such behavior won't be accepted or tolerated.

Hopefully that message has been sent and received at both Lawrence and Free State high schools, and the distasteful incidents that were reported this year won't happen again ever.

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