Education

Hazing On The Rise In High Schools, Middle Schools

The Gwinnett County School Board, seen here in a photo from Jan. 22, listened to the appeals of six students earlier this week.
The Gwinnett County School Board, seen here in a photo from Jan. 22, listened to the appeals of six students earlier this week.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Before getting to college, about half of students say they’ve experienced hazing, according to a national study on student hazing.

At Parkview High School in Gwinnett County, six students are still under suspension for a hazing incident that happened on a baseball team trip in June.

“There was testimony during the initial hearings that there had been a pattern of this,” said Giles Sexton, an attorney for one of the students. “And that in the past none of the alleged victims had ever come forward nor reported it, but apparently it could have been known to people that it had occurred in the past.” 

Elliott Hopkins, the director of sports, sanctioning and educational services with the National Federation of State High School Associations, said faculty members aren’t doing enough to discourage hazing.

“A lot of administrators who see some of this and some coaches, feel it’s a rite of passage – an initiation to my team, my school, my program,” Hopkins, who is also on the board of HazingPrevention.Org, said. “We still have the mindset that it’s boys just being boys, but what we’re identifying is it’s becoming sexual abuse.”

In March, the soccer team at Centennial High School in Roswell was suspended for four games after a hazing incident was recorded on video.

Hopkins said he hears of more cases in middle school and over the last two decades it’s “gotten progressively worse.”

He says one reason we hear about it more often is because more people are reporting it.

“Before the Internet and smartphones, it was always a dirty little secret just kept within the school community,” Hopkins said. “But now children are starting to speak out and parents are giving their children more credit.”