Despite the increased awareness on bullying, and similar behaviors such as hazing, harassment and stalking, incidents of these activities continue to affect children and young adults across the nation, with a hazing incident just reported recently at a local Los Angeles high school.
Hazing is defined as the use of embarrassing and often dangerous or illegal activities by a person or group to initiate new members – and is against the law in many states. Many of these activities or rituals occur on or near school campuses and can include forced alcohol or other substance use, physical abuse, being tied up or abandoned, demeaning treatment and ridicule.
Here are a few steps to help prevent hazing on your child’s team or school campus.
Encourage Responsible Leaders – Ensure that your child’s school or team plans for, develops, and works with positive, proactive leaders who will not plan or permit hazing in any form.
Discuss Your Views on Hazing – Meet with your child’s school officials, coaches and/or local leaders to learn more about the school’s policies, and discuss your views on hazing. Partner with these leaders on a hazing/bullying prevention plan and ensure that everyone is accountable.
Install a Big Brother/Sister System on the Team – If your child is involved in sports, encourage coaches to pair up younger athletes or newcomers with veteran athletes to watch out for and mentor them in their new environment.
Report Hazing Incidents – Report any incident of hazing immediately. Let your child know that he can come to you or another trusted adult if they anticipate or experience any incident of hazing. Talk openly with your child, reminding him that you have zero tolerance for this behavior and are there to help him, should he, or anyone at his school, experience this. Just like with bullying, assure your child that he or she is not at fault should he experience any form of hazing, and the attacker’s behavior is the problem. Assure them that they will not be a “tattle” by reporting an incident, instead he will be helping the situation.
Model Positive Behaviors – Help your kids understand the meaning of respect and tolerance by modeling friendly, caring behavior and showing how friends, family and peers act positively toward each other.
For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources website.
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