Category Archives: Laws

Next wave: anti-hazing laws

Glenn R. Stutzky, Michigan State University

By Hayley Beitman
Staff writer

As states and universities adopt more anti-hazing laws, there is evidence that hazing is a legal issue around the world. The Philippines, for example, has a national anti-hazing law. In the United States, hazing is regulated at state and local levels.

Hazing laws vary by state, so one collective definition does not yet exist. Hazing as defined by Jacinda Boucher, author of Hazing and Higher Education, “encompasses an extensive range of behaviors and activities, ranging from seemingly innocuous activities such as blindfolding and scavenger hunts, to more dangerous and extreme physical punishments, including sleep deprivation and excessive exercise.”

Hank Nuwer, hazing author and public speaker, defines bullying as mean or dangerous behavior meant to exclude someone from a group; His contrasting definition of hazing is bringing someone into a group, even if it is silly or demeaning. The problem according to Nuwer is that hazing can also be bullying in such cases like a football team not wanting a member to join.

Glenn Stutzky, clinical social worker at Michigan State University, defines hazing as group bullying. Everyone’s definition is a little different which makes talking about the same thing difficult.

The case for bullying legislation

Epling board thumb

Kevin Epling talked about some of the ways bullying has changed in recent years. Photo by Hayley Beitman

 

 

By Tony Briscoe, Nicholas Roddy and Dmitri Barvinok
Staff writers

If lockers and linoleum tiles could talk, they would tell an unpleasant tale of students around the United States.

Bullying has become an increasingly popular topic to a major research group that indicates 28 percent of all students between 12 to 18 years old are victims of maltreatment.

More than 47 percent of bullied students have reported that they have been victimized specifically in school hallways and stairwells, according to the U.S Department of Education’s National Center for Education statistics.

Another nine percent of victims said they were bullied in the bathroom or locker room while another six percent are harassed on the school bus.

This comes as no surprise to high school teacher Carman Smith. An English teacher at Wylie E. Groves High School in Beverly Hills, Mich., Smith said he has to intervene in bullying altercations at least once a day.

“A lot of times it happens in between classes in the hallways, it happens in the locker rooms, it happens in common areas, before school, after schools, on the bus, at the bus stop…I would say most happen outside of the classroom.”

While many students reported being bullied in transition, 33 percent of victims identified the classroom as a bullying focal point.

Smith said that Groves teachers are more than capable of handling bullying in the classroom. The school, roughly 1,400 students, has anti-bullying policies as well as prevention programs such as peer mediation.

“It is a part of our house rules that we report any type of hazing or bullying or someone being treated unfairly,” said Smith. “Each individual case is handled separately, so the actual consequences depend on the situation.”

The district also has had seminars where teachers undergo training on how to resolve bullying situations.

One of the biggest problems the group is struggling to manage now is cyberbullying. According to a 2011 Pew Internet report, eight percent of students have been bullied online in the last 12 months. Smith, who’s been teaching since 2002, said bullying has become unmanageable problem because issues online now spill into the classroom.

Teachers say that training must support laws

By Leslie Tilson
Staff writer

Although many schools already have anti-bullying policies in place, many teachers find themselves searching for more effective ways to combat bullying in their classrooms. Laws alone are not enough, they say, and training would help.

Most states have school bullying policies and are adding policies against cyberbullying and hazing, but many teachers wonder how effective laws can be.

“I think that Pennsylvania’s anti-bullying laws in schools are somewhat effective, although I wish it was more straightforward and gave the consequences of certain actions so each school is on the same page,” said Lauren Sady, a first, second and third grade teacher in the Philadelphia School District. She said complicated definitions of bullying can be a problem. “The law creates more obstacles for the administration because bullying is bullying and there should not have to be a long list of criteria to go through before a child faces consequences. This may allow for more time for the student to think that he /she did no wrong, or come up with more ways to bully other children.”

Although anti-bullying laws may create some hurdles for schools, they do give the school administration some legal ground to stand on.