The Plain, Unbleached Truth About Hazing

“I found my locker and I found my classes.
Lost my lunch and I broke my glasses.
That guy is huge! That girl is wailin’!
First day of school and I’m already failing.

This is me in grade nine, baby, this is me in grade nine
This is me in grade nine, baby, this is me in grade nine.”

Barenaked Ladies, “Grade 9”

The media here in O-town is ablaze with the story of a young man at Nepean High School in the 12th grade, who was suspended after police investigated a complaint about hazing from a young boy in Grade 9 who is attending the same school. His fellow classmates subsequently staged a very public protest, claiming it was unfair that he was “expelled” from school. I rolled my eyes and audibly uttered a “WTF?” when I read the following quote from one of the students, Fatima Allen:

“We think it’s just completely unfair, because he wasn’t the only one and he’s not going to be the last one to frosh (….) It’s his last year, so this is really ruining his chances with universities and ruining his senior year.”

(Wha? Really? OMG!)

Hazing is a long-standing tradition in high school, even a rite of passage, some might say. I was in Grade 9, once upon a time. Fortunately, for me, being invisible also meant that I escaped any kind of “initiation” treatment. Not so for a friend of mine. His hazing ended with him plowing full-bore through a plate-glass door and requiring hospitalization.

My 13-year-old son started Grade 9 last week. Sad to say, he is no stranger to bullying, or rather, being bullied. Having a dual diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and ADHD puts a target on your back that no amount of laundry soap or shower gel can wash away. (That being said, there have been the rare occasions when it’s only fair to say he brought it upon himself.) I believe he managed to escape being hazed; I’ve asked him about it a couple of times, remembering my friend Dave in all too vivid detail, and his answer has consistently been “No.” But, we’ll see.

Getting back to the story that prompted this post. I’d like to know why seniors in high school are even allowed to mix with the “frosh” in the first place. I know it can’t be avoided, especially after school hours and when it occurs away from school property. Hazing may be tradition, but it is also assault. When someone pelts you with an egg, or flour, or urine (yes; that came up in the Citizen article), regardless of whether or not you “asked for it,” or in the case of hazing, “should expect it,” I think the punishment should involve action on the part of police. If a high school student, especially a senior, is old enough, and bold enough, to do the deed, a criminal record should proceed. A student in high school with any sort of aspirations should be thinking of university or college and/or employment prospects and keeping his/her overall record “clean.” I don’t know of any rational adult out there right now who is applauding “Mykal”‘s actions in the slightest. I work as an HR Administrator as my day job, and I can tell you all right now that no prospective employer would give this cat the time of day, because an incident like this immediately speaks to one’s character, and personal suitability/sense of responsibility.

And, Fatima? In the real world, the one that awaits you and your ken upon graduation, we, the rational adults who are reading the story of your “protest” with equal amounts of derision and horror; don’t throw eggs or bleach or flour or *shudder* human waste at other people. It isn’t an acceptable form of behaviour. Adults who behave like that are sent to jail. Your classmate should be treated no differently. In the choice words of people who are older and far wiser than you, you and “Mykal”‘s other supporters need to “grow the f- up.”

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