Social Justice Solutions is about hearing the voices of those working within, and influenced by, the broad spectrum of social justice issues. One of the issues SJS writers have written about is bullying, which is why when the below email came to our attention we felt the urge to share. While different than bullying, hazing is certainly a form of bullying and requires our action and attention. Below you will find an email from one of our facebook followers regarding her and her son’s experiences with hazing. We hope you will read her story, join the cause if you are interested, and remember to always stand up for those youth and adults experiencing similar situations.
Dear Social Justice Solutions Community, I am the parent of a young man who was hazed as part of his high school swim team experience. We attempted to address the problem with the school, but were met with denial and coverup rather than an appropriate response.
Many people in this community that we live in find nothing wrong with what takes place on this team. The abuse of children is just not acceptable. There were numerous rules about this kind of behavior, which tells me they perceived hazing to be a threat to the health and well-being of children, yet when I reported it, they took no action other than to cover it up. I went to school administrators, the police, and even town leaders about the problem. The police, who refused to investigate citing the statute of limitations had expired, when in fact it had not, refused to investigate. We filed a complaint with the US Dept of Education Office of Civil Rights and they did an investigation and found insufficient evidence. We requested the files supplied by the school under the Freedom of Information Act and found a small mountain of evidence to the contrary. We live in a very powerful and affluent community in Northwest Indiana. The news of this story has been suppressed here. I believe the US DOE OCR investigation was tainted to deliver a particular outcome. I have a reconsideration pending with the US Dept of Ed, OCR in Washington, but it has been more than 9 months since I submitted it.
We have a federal lawsuit filed, but that process is daunting, slow, and quite honestly the entire system seems to be stacked against the individual bringing such a case. I was a single mom at the time my son was hazed. We lost our home in a flood in this community. I utilized all my resources to rebuild here so my son could continue his elementary education among his friends. I had no idea at the time that he was being hazed. I don’t know if we will be able to see this thing to the end or if it will even get off the ground. They will move for summary judgement immediately.
Long story, short, we’re looking for help to get this story out; to gain public support to help with the US DOE OCR reconsideration, and passage of the new law here in Indiana. Ultimately, we would like to see a federal hazing law. Children who are faced into hazing rituals are having their rights were trampled. When I took my son to the police station to report the 2010 haircutting assault, the officer told him it was too bad he had not gone along with the rest of the guys. I told him to please not say that, that my son had not been asked. They had grabbed him and restrained him, pulled him down the hall and cut his hair against his will. He went on and on, suggesting that my son didn’t want to go to Annapolis or West Point (inferring like a real man). I ended up filing a formal complaint on the officer, because that is not how a policeman should treat a victim. It was a horrible process. There was audio and video but they have now destroyed it. They did confirm in a report, though, that the officer said all the things I stated. Victims have rights and my sons were violated.
Any help you can give us to get this story out, we are hoping to get thousands of likes on our Facebook Page, would be helpful. It took a lot of courage for my son to go public with this. He graduated in January and has chosen to escape the toxic environment at this school. Now that he is out of there a bit of a weight has been lifted, but he will be victimized all over again in the legal process. It is important to us that people know what happened here. That a school district, a board of education, a town, and a police department covered it all up. It seems it would have been so much easier to address the problem. They didn’t want to do that. For some sick reason, they seem to like this kind of thing in their community. I wish we had known what goes on, my son would not have chosen to be abused in the way he was.
Please “like” our Facebook page @ www.Facebook.com/makehazingstop
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