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Sat, Dec. 14

Officials say: No hazing on local<BR>campuses

PRESCOTT – Tri-city high school educators said Wednesday they don't allow hazing at school events on or off campus and that they take measures to prevent it.

They made their comments in response to an Associated Press report that almost half the high school students who answered a small nationwide survey said they were "made to eat disgusting things, abuse alcohol or drugs or perform humiliating or illegal acts to join athletic teams, the band, even church groups."

Researchers from Alfred (New York) University said the report shows a willingness among younger people to do violence or break laws for a sense of belonging.

There was no indication that any Yavapai County students received the survey, a two-page mail-in questionnaire Alfred sent to 11th and 12th graders this spring. However, publication of survey returns from 1,541 students, and hazing incidents elsewhere, prompted inquiry into the tri-city hazing situation.

Two local principals – David Perey of Chino Valley High School and Prescott High's Tim Carter – pointed to Arizona School Boards Association language their own boards have incorporated into new policy manuals:

"There shall be no hazing of any student enrolled in the District schools. Hazing is defined as any act that injures, degrades, or disgraces – or tends to injure, degrade or disgrace – any student."

Penalties range from reprimand and suspension to expulsion. Police involvement is also a strong possibility, officials noted.

The survey comes on the heels of several hazing instances across the country. According to Associated Press reports, six of eight Winslow, Ariz., high school athletes recently accepted plea bargains in connection with the sexual assault of about a dozen basketball and track team members. Trumbull, Conn., authorities charged several high school wrestlers in connection with the sexual assault of another wrestler, and a high school newspaper in Avon, Ind., documented assaults on young athletes.

Perey called his school's hazing policy "pretty strict" and maintained that he has had no hazing reports from students or parents.

"We in-service all of our coaches with regards to hazing activities and spend time with all students regarding rules and consequences," Perey said. "We work hard to make sure hazing doesn't happen, and we remind students and staff alike that students are going to jail for those kinds of things, so we do everything we can to prevent that type of activity."

Carter said good supervision prevents problems.

"We're very proactive," he said. "We wouldn't tolerate hazing on our campus."

Further, Prescott High instituted a Mutual Respect instruction program a couple of years ago.

"Its focus is identifying all kinds of harassment, including hazing," Carter said. "It lets students know that we need to act appropriately with other people, treat them with respect and be observant of how others perceive what we're doing."

PHS Assistant Principal Bernie Garcia searched two years' worth of records but found no documented instances involving hazing.

"To my recollection, we haven't had a hazing instance in the past five years," he said, "and something that serious, like the Winslow event, would definitely stick out in my mind."

Garcia credited well-trained teachers, coaches and others supervising events for the positive results.

"Athletic Director Wayne Howell makes sure his coaches know the procedures," he said, "and our coaches do a good job of supervising players on and off the court or playing field."

Anyone involved with students makes them aware of proper conduct, Garcia added.

Bradshaw Mountain High School's student handbook prohibits hazing, according to Assistant Principal Jim Wells.

"We did have a couple of instances early last year, but we addressed it early and it went away rather rapidly," he said.

One involved upperclassmen holding down an underclassman, "an 'uncle-uncle' type of thing," Wells said. "As a result, we placed two students on three days' home suspension."

The other incident involved about four students in an off-campus incident, and the school issued warnings in that case. There have been no reports of hazing since then, Wells said.

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