Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Student-Athlete Hazing Assaults on Younger Teammates = Arrests

CA High School Student Athletes Arrested For Hazing Team Members

Four Los Angeles-area high school student-athlete varsity soccer players have been arrested for physically / sexually assaulting younger team members in hazing rituals that victims said were conducted with the complicity of a coach. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department opened an investigation at the request of the school district after a parent of one boy who claimed to have been harassed by teammates came forward to lodge a complaint, school officials said.

Superintendent Barbara Nakaoka said she shared people's "shock and sadness." The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District statement is as follows:   "Our school community faces the tragic allegation that student-to-student hazing was taking place between members of a sports team at La Puente High School. The allegations are deeply concerning, and they have understandably caused tremendous anxiety and anger among students and parents," she said.

"The hazing incidents have gone on for several years and may have risen to the level of a crime," sheriff's Sergeant Al Fraijo said.  "At this point, there is no information to indicate that any member of faculty or coaching staff were directly involved," he added.

However, a lawyer representing the families of four boys who claim they were victimized said the hazing and assaults were carried out by team members against younger fellow players "at the behest and encouragement" of a coach.  Attorney Brian Claypool, said the coach "lured young boys to a back room to facilitate varsity members of the team sexually assaulting the boys by attempting to sodomize them with a foreign object."   One of the alleged victims, named as "John," told the Dr. Drew Show on cable channel HLN that six or seven people had thrown him to the floor and were "beating on me" in one incident.

The attorney representing the four alleged hazing victims has now hired a clinical psychologist to help them cope with what they say is sexual assault. "This is not hazing, this is a sexual assault. These boys when I saw them were in serious trauma. I did a suicide assessment on one of them," psychologist Michelle Golland said. She said the alleged victims were going through something akin to post-traumatic stress disorder. "PTSD untreated will go into serious anxiety, serious depression. All of the families involved, they all need therapy as well, because they are in this vortex of trauma," Golland said.

Points for Discussion:

    • A short conflict or recurring dislike between students is not bullying or hazing. But if there is a continued or systemic negative physical, psychological, emotional behaviors targeted against an individual student or a select group of students is bullying / hazing.
  • PHYSICAL HAZING and BULLYING can become SEXUAL ASSAULT in some cases.
  • HAZING / BULLYING can result in arrests, loss of career, depression, suicide, investigations.
  • Hazing and Bullying typically is not viewed as " important" until it happens to YOUR child or at YOUR school, then people get energized after the incident and take a "never again" attitude.  
  • The effects of bullying / hazing have a long lasting impact on individuals, their families, schools, and communities. ALL OF THIS CAN BE AVOIDED.
  • IF YOUR SCHOOL DOESN'T HAVE AN ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAM, the likelihood of hazing / bullying taking place at your school is considerably higher and you won't know it until it is too late. 
  • Many adults (including sometimes parents of bullied students) chose not to speak up to report bullying because they are afraid to "make a big deal out of it" or they "don't want to get anyone in big trouble". Unconsciously, they are choosing the concerns of the bully's and their own discomfort over that of the child being bullied which is a lack the character and moral courage to do the right thing. 
The Fostering and Maintenance of Respect in a Family and a School Climate 
is the Greatest Means to Prevent and Mitigate Bullying 
in our Communities.