Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News
Carmel - Faced with police investigations, suspensions and allegations of hazing and assaults, Carmel's school superintendent is promising new rules to protect students.
Superintendent Jeff Swensson promised new hazing and bullying prevention initiatives. Four senior basketball players were suspended for inappropriate behavior, with three under criminal investigation, accused of assaulting freshman team members.
"To do everything we can to deter and prevent this behavior," Swensson said.
The current rules appear to fall far short of that goal. Carmel High School's student handbook clearly prohibits bullying, but says nothing of hazing. It's handbook for athletes devotes two-and-a-half pages to the criteria for athletic awards.
But hazing? There's a single line prohibiting horseplay, roughhousing, hazing and initiations - beneath the warnings to wear proper clothing and drink plenty of water.
Hank Nuwer, a Franklin College professor and nationally-recognized expert on college and high school hazing, says that one line doesn't make up an adequate anti-hazing policy.
"You have a better chance of getting Carmel students to wear socks under their basketball shoes, from the wording you showed me, than to have them obey the hazing rules," Nuwer said.
Studies find dangerous hazing is now as common in high schools as it is in colleges. Along with new rules, Carmel is promising better supervision of students and better training for coaches and other staff members.
"We want to make sure our resources allow students and staff to understand the steps to take if and when rules and expectations are being violated," Swensson said.
There is one study that found a third of all high school hazing victims didn't report it. They felt there was no one to tell, or that adults wouldn't respond properly. Experts insist most high schools aren't taking the threat seriously enough.
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