Two Illinois high schools have been at the center of the high school hazing debate, and the schools are taking different paths to settle the issues.
Hazing Scandal #1
At Hoffman Estates High School, fourteen members of the high school basketball team were ordered to forfeit three games after alleged hazing incidents.
Officials said members of the basketball team would single out a player for initiation, then pile on top of that player and poke, grab and touch the individual in areas that sometimes included the buttocks and groin. All players were fully clothed during the hazing incidents and the touching did not occur underneath a player’s clothes.
The Hoffman Estates police department is working with the school during the ongoing investigation.
The team’s coach is also being investigated, but players told school officials that their coach knew nothing about the initiation ritual.
The school has stated that the team will forfeit their next three games as a result of the “horseplay”, and members of the team will undergo training in hazing awareness.
Hazing Scandal #2
In an unrelated high school, the Department of Children and Family Services is looking into possible criminal violations stemming from hazing incidents dating back to 2008.
The DCFS is investigating one or more school officials at Maine West High School who may have known about the incidents and failed to report the conduct to proper authorities. The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act requires knowledge of alleged abuse to be reported, and violations range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony.
The investigation comes on the heels of a variety of incidents involving hazing on the boys soccer and baseball teams.
A parent of a freshman on the 2008 baseball team informed the school principal that members of the team had tore off her son’s pants and underwear on numerous occasions, sometimes exposing his genitals.
School officials investigated the complaint and four students were disciplined, but top district officials were not informed. An internal investigation is being conducted to determine if the school acted appropriately.
The DCFS decided to get involved after the more recent hazing incident surrounding the boys soccer team. Details about the latest incident have not been released, but six players were charged with misdemeanors after allegedly hazing three players.
Hazing and bullying is a growing epidemic in our schools,” says Illinois attorney Sean Sullivan. “What troubles me most about these two stories is that the Department of Children and Family Services is concerned enough to seek further investigation in one case, but not in the other. It seems like a slippery slope to define one as ‘horseplay’ and the other as bordering on a sex crime. Both of these cases involve bullying of student athletes, and both deal with hazing related to school activities. In my opinion both should warrant further investigation, not just one.”
Related source: Chicago Tribune