Good-natured ribbing is common among young people, and it’s also a rite of passage for high school students. As long as it doesn’t turn mean or harmful, I don’t have any problems with hazing.
Hazing had peaked long before I became a high school freshman, but we were still subject to some outrageous stunts.
A popular form of hazing at my school was the penny race. Starting at opposite ends of a school bus, two freshmen would push pennies with their noses down the aisle while crawling toward the center. The winner wouldn’t have to participate in the next round.
One poor freshman was once suspended from the overhead bookracks for half of a bus ride home. He clutched the rack over the aisle on one side of the bus while his feet clung to the rack on the other side.
Yes, we had it all at my high school. From singing the school’s fight song and Christmas carols to paying for locker insurance and elevator passes, some students were bound to try out any idea.
I somehow escaped penny races and most other harsher forms of hazing, but I didn’t get out of high school completely unscathed. Most hazing had ceased by the time students in my class became seniors. It just seemed so pointless.
Overcoming immaturity is a part growing up, although hazing must be thwarted if it leads to intimidation or harm. Particularly for students in high school and younger, harassment can leave emotional scars.
Recently, officials at Downers Grove South High School in Illinois expressed concern about a practice that has been done at pep rallies for about six years. Upperclassmen start a chant — “Go home, freshmen, go home” — for a few seconds before the person hosting the pep rally declares, “We are all Mustangs!”
It’s a silly tradition, but it’s incredibly tame as far as hazing goes. With the possible exception of a few overly sensitive types, I don’t believe anyone would be upset over it.
This isn’t to suggest that students, faculty members and school administrators should tolerate students who single out others for harsher treatment. Intimidation can lead to bullying, and that’s not acceptable.
But good-natured ribbing is common among young people, and it’s also a rite of passage. As long as it doesn’t turn mean or harmful, I don’t have any problems with it.
It’s good that people question the value of practices that could lead to harassment. It’s also good that, from time to time, we let kids be kids.
Jerry Moore is the opinions editor for Suburban Life Publications. Contact him at (630) 368-8930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.