I was rather shocked when my mom told me about this. Apparently for quite a few years, in my hometown, there has been a day in the spring known as "Freshman Friday." On "Freshman Friday" the juniors would haze the eighth graders. In my hometown. Where I went to middle school and high school. Where the 7th-12th grade are in one building, with the middle school in a separate wing.
This year, the hazing came to a crescendo.
Rye, New York, Hazing Incident: High School Student Defiant in Face of Allegations - ABC News
(Maybe there is a way to embed this, but I couldn't figure out how. You will want to watch the video to get a sense of the district. My friend watched it and said, "The building looks like the Law Quad." It kind of does. The high school was built with the help of the WPA.)
This year, a student filmed (on a phone) some eighth graders (allegedly) being forced into a car. They were then (allegedly) taken to a local park where they were beaten so badly that one of them ended up in the hospital. Now three students have been charged--as adults--with felonies.
Also, as cited in the Gothamist, after the incident came to light:
According to MyRye.com, in 2010, Rye school officials warned parents about "Freshman Friday":(Emphasis added.)
Dear Parents, Fear is in the air at Rye Middle School. There is a lot of chatter that June 4 is Freshman Friday, and eighth grade boys are fearful they are going to be attacked by balloons filled with Nair and have their bottoms smacked with paddles. It is hard to tell what is rumor and what is actually going to happen.
For several years, an odious spring tradition has taken place in Rye: junior boys paddle eighth grade boys off school grounds. In recent years we have heard of fewer instances of paddling, but the practice has not been extinguished.
Hazing is not tolerated in this community. The Rye Police Department will be on patrol tomorrow and will be on heightened alert all weekend. If you are the parent of an eighth grade boy, we suggest you encourage your son to keep a low profile this weekend. If the unthinkable should happen and you child should be on the receiving end of a hazing incident, we strongly encourage you to contact the Rye Police and help them identify the perpetrators. Together we can put an end to this dangerous tradition.
Have a safe weekend.
And yet. . . according to the ABC News article cited above, the Superintendent had this to say:
Edward J. Shine, superintendent of the Rye City School District, disputed the notion that "freshman Friday" is a tradition. "Some have suggested that these alleged acts are part of an annual 'tradition' at Rye High School. Let me be clear: just because a small handful of students choose to believe that this is the case, does not make it a fact," he said in a statement to parents.Obviously, that is not true. Apparently, my niece (in the middle school, but not in eighth grade) has been telling her parents all year that there was a "Freshman Friday" day where juniors made eighth graders do things. And in case you are wondering, "How old is this hazing tradition?" I don't know--but to my knowledge it didn't exist when I and my siblings were in high school.
What I found most disturbing about this story is not that kids got bullied. No, what I found most disturbing is that the school administration knew about the hazing years ago, but didn't take action--except for suggesting that parents ensure their eighth grade sons "keep a low profile."
Remember. Hazing is another form of Bullying.
And these administrators need to be held accountable.