Texas Panhandle school districts enforce policies to combat hazing

Select school districts in the Texas Panhandle explain roles and procedures they have in place to deal with reports of potential hazing (Drew Powell ABC 7 News)

Just how safe is your child at school from hazing? There are some important facts that parents and students need to know as school districts across the Texas Panhandle and state implement policies to help ensure students safety.

“The best way to defeat it is get the kids to talk about it,” said Jay Lamb, superintendent of Groom Independent School District. “Number two make the teachers aware of it and be alert for it.”

What can be perceived as harmless fun or a group bonding exercise can progress into a dangerous behavior and result in injury.

“It happens,” said Lamb. “Senior roles, freshman roles and coaches have to be alert for it and watch for it. They have to encourage kids to be teammates in this day and age and that’s harder.”

School districts are tasked with educating teachers on how to identify hazing and help students who may be detached from groups to overcome the stereotype that acceptance is necessary in order to be considered part of the group.

“We have online compliance training and then we have in person compliance training as well as the extra-curricular events,” said Nathan Maxwell, Pampa Independent School District Associate Superintendent for Human Resources. “We have UIL Handbooks, board policies things that go into depth on those issues.”

“We educate them to pick up on the problems and question students about problems,” said Lamb. “We as a staff have to be observant and be in areas where you know things can generally happen.”

“Cell phones have been a big problem, online technology is starting to be a big problem as well,” said Brock Cartwright, superintendent Claude Independent School District. “We have to address that with our students as well. It’s not just a physical appearance as far as body to body it can be done online.”

Maxwell tells ABC 7 News Pampa ISD and many other districts provide an anonymous online resource as a way for students to report hazing and not fear retaliation from fellow students.

“It gives them a way to be anonymous and report that and we will go follow up without having to isolate that child,” said Maxwell. “Students may feel that there may be retaliation against them from their peers.”

“We tell our kids to have a voice,” said Cartwright. “Do not be afraid. Always have a voice. It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in and if you see something, say something. If you know of something its best to report it.”

Changing what has become a cultural norm is difficult. It requires students, staff and parents to communicate and understand you have to be proactive and learn about hazing and the consequences that come with injury or hurt feelings.

The majority of the school districts have a zero tolerance policy in place yet the problem still occurs, which is why parents are encouraged to talk to their child or children about hazing and the dangers. Parents are encouraged to tell their child or children maintain friendships across a number of settings and not just one group.

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