Hazing expert: Consistency, communication key

Hank Nuwer
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Kris Kirschner/Eyewitness News

Delphi - Delphi Police say they've completed their investigation into an alleged assault in a locker room at the high school. School officials ruled the incident was nothing more than locker room play.

For decades, hazing rituals were common at frat houses. Movies like Animal House got laughs on the big screen. But humor found in a scene from a film is lost when the harsh reality of hazing hits home.

"We're talking about the reality of sexual assaults," said Hank Nuwer, hazing expert.

Just Tuesday, Delphi school officials ruled an alleged assault on a freshman was nothing more than locker room horseplay.

Delphi Superintendent Ralph Walker called it an "attempted wedgie." But the father of the alleged victim contends it was much more.

"He's traumatized," said the father.

When rites become wrongs is the subject of a book about hazing by author and Franklin College journalism professor Hank Nuwer, who for more than three decades has kept track of hazing incidents across the country.

"We're in an age of disrespect and an age of a sports culture with an entitlement," he said.

His advice to parents: talk to your children first.

"You tell your child you deserve respect. You don't have to go through this to get respect," said Nuwer. "You teach your child not to run with the crowd. You teach your child in certain situations you go the other way."

As for schools, many of which he's helped develop hazing policies, he believes consistency is key.

"We need to have team captains, parents, coaches all on the same page here," he said.

Greenwood Middle School is one that works to give students the tools to bully-proof themselves.

"I think kids have a pretty good sense of what's uncomfortable for them," said Vicki Noblitt, Greenwood Middle School principal.

Students with potential issues are provided with classes that teach citizenship and good behavior.

"It seems to be better all the way around if they can tactfully, carefully handle the situation," said Noblitt.

"There has to be a sensible way of confronting," said Nuwer.

Hazing, once a rite of passage, now an epidemic, is something that many hope will eventually evolve into a tradition of respect.

See Hank Nuwer's blog.