When you think of hazing rituals, perhaps images of drunken college freshmen fraternity pledges running miles around campus at ungodly hours of the night are what first come to mind. Or maybe you’ve seen Animal House.
But as developments regarding an ongoing investigation at East Middle School in Montgomery County, North Carolina unfold, it has become painfully obvious how easily harsh hazing rituals can happen among much younger students—students that parents might assume are under adult supervision at all times.
I have recently blogged on the pandemic problem of bullying and the efforts being made against it. Countless non-profits and activist groups exist that attempt to raise awareness and stop bullying. Additionally, in the U.S. 42 states have passed laws regarding anti-bullying policies required for school districts. In North Carolina, the General Assembly’s School Violence Prevention Act (which you can read here as the Senate Bill 526) was passed in June, 2009 and requires that all local school administrative units adopt a policy prohibiting bullying and harassing behavior.
Fourteen students at a public middle school in Biscoe, North Carolina have come forward as victims of sexual bullying—the kind of bullying that Sheriff Jeff Jordan and District Attorney Alan Greene feel merits criminal charges of misdemeanor sexual battery and misdemeanor assault.
The teenagers—members of the soccer and baseball teams at the middle school—were allegedly forced to endure an initiation ritual in the locker room while there were no adults present. The hazing involved the victims being pinned down as sexual acts were simulated on them.
The allegations have lead to charges against 12 student-athletes, all members of either the soccer or baseball teams. Since each young man is still a minor, they will be prosecuted in juvenile court.
Also facing criminal charges is Vivacious Crew, former East Middle School principal who resigned on May 6, 2010 following the charges. She has been charged with failing to report a sexual offense, which is a class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina. According to Sheriff Jordan in an article from digtriad.com, a state statute requires a principal to report an on-campus sex offense immediately or by the end of that same day. Ms. Crew allegedly took three days to report the offense that had been brought to her attention by parents on April 13, 2010.
Though the former principal and other adults responsible for the supervision of these young student-athletes might not have taken adequate and timely actions against the hazing and sexual-bullying taking place at East Middle, at least a local law enforcement officer is investigating and addressing the issue now.