What Atrocities? What Torture?
Posted by Jon Alvarez
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Sadly, this war is fast becoming a "politically-correct" war. Thanks to the anti-American efforts of CBS, they have helped to fuel the fires of anti-Americanism around the globe. So now we are having to apologize for a few soldiers who chose to ham it up and take pictures of themselves with Iraqi prisoners. I've seen nothing which leads me to believe these Iraqis were subjected to anything worse than being forced to perform sophomoric hazing rituals a la the Omega fraternity in the movie "Animal House."
In fact, most American POW accounts of their treatment at the hands of not only the Iraqis, but also certain Asian peoples, leads me to believe most of our brave POWs would have considered themselves lucky to have been treated to a little bit of hazing as opposed to the starvation and beatings they endured. Just ask Senator John McCain and the other Vietnam War POWs or Navy aviator Jeffry Zaun how their captors treated them.
Folks, we are at war and war is hell. Bad things happen in war and people die. Let's keep things in perspective; we are in Iraq and Afghanistan because radical Islam has declared war on Western society. We must stay the course if we are going to prevail. Also, bad things happen in prisonsthat's why it's a good idea to stay out of them.
We are at war with a people who have been brutalized for years by a sadistic killer. For our own media and the Arab press to use these pictures to draw comparisons between our forces and Saddam Hussein is irresponsible and blatantly false. We've seen just recently how the people of Iraq treat Americans by dragging, burning, and hanging their bodies after they were murdered in cold blood.
These soldiers involved in this "scandal" will be dealt with by the military. It's a sad testimony to see Brig. General Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of these prisons, attempt to pass the buck rather than take some responsibility for those under her command. What is truly unfortunate is that those responsible for real atrocities like those committed in Fallujah continue to roam free and most likely will never face justice.
Let's not allow the media to make more of this than there really is. We already know many people in the Arab world hate us. If we allow this to turn into a "PC" war, they will no longer fear us. They need to learn that bad things will happen to them if they mess with the United States. War is hell.
Contact your elected officials and the media to let them know you stand by our troops and the War on Terror.
American POW Accounts Of Treatment In Iraq
More Muslim Propaganda
Come On, Is This Really Atrocious and Chilling?
Or Just Poor Judgment?
Hazing issues lasting impact rears ugly head in the USA
Girls just wanna have fun
Chicago-AP -- Three Chicago-area teens who claim they were injured in a high school hazing incident are suing their former schoolmates and their parents.The lawsuit names more than 20 former Glenbrook North High School students as defendants. It claims the teens were choked, assaulted and forced to eat pig intestines. Last year's "powder puff" event at a forest preserve north of Chicago gained national attention when videotapes of the incident surfaced. Students had buckets of hair, animal entrails and other filth dumped on them. Five students ended up in the hospital. The lawsuit claims the three plaintiffs suffered concussions and needed psychological counseling. More than 30 seniors were expelled and 16 students were convicted on misdemeanor charges. A mother whose daughter was expelled calls the suit "without merit," and adds the country is "lawsuit-crazy."
Hazing photos from US schools:
Alleged treatment of Iraqi prisoners appears tame in comparison .
Soccer players who had their heads forced into toilets weren't the only ones shocked when a hazing ritual took on a sadistic edge this year at Woodridge High School in Peninsula, Ohio.
Boyz in the hood
|Supporters of Mepham High School football players who were victims of an alleged hazing incident gather in Honesdale, Pa.
|By Rick Smith, AP
"It was going on right under our noses, for a few years anyway, and we had no idea," says Jerry Graham, Woodridge's school district superintendent.
Graham is among many high school administrators across the USA who are perplexed by escalating violence associated with hazing. Researchers at Alfred (N.Y.) University, in the first study of its kind, say about 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year, and about half of those victims are athletes, the group facing the greatest risk of enduring these often-dangerous initiations. (Related audio: Hazing prevention handbook in the works)
"One of the things we find is that the teammates who perpetrate the hazing are the ones who suffered it the year before, and they want to make it that much more dangerous, to validate their experience," says Norman Pollard, Alfred's director of counseling/student development.
Pollard led studies in 1999, asking college students about their hazing experiences in high school, and in 2000, directly surveying high school students on hazing. He continues to research the issue. "It gets a little worse each year," Pollard says, "until it gets to the breaking point."
Among recent incidents:
•After the football team at Mepham High School in Bellmore, N.Y., held a training camp last summer in Pennsylvania, older players were charged with sodomizing younger players with broom sticks, pine cones and golf balls. The football season was canceled, the coaching staff was fired and three players face criminal charges. A judge has determined whether the players should be tried as adults, but the ruling has been sealed.
•A "powder puff" football game between senior and junior girls at Glenbrook North High in suburban Chicago this year degenerated into a melee that left five juniors seeking medical treatment. The school district expelled 33 seniors and disciplined 20 juniors. Sixteen teens were convicted of misdemeanor battery or alcohol charges.
•In the last year, similar allegations have been made in virtually every corner of the nation. From the South Dakota town of Spearfish, to Salt Lake City, to Donaldsonville, La., there have been accusations of students being showered with mixtures of urine and vomit, being brutally paddled or being sodomized.
Top coaches agree the climate has changed and little tolerance remains for hazing rituals.
"When I was growing up in the '70s, I guess you could say we were hazed," says Dan Burke, coach of the Palm Bay (Fla.) football team. "They would grab the sophomores and smack them in the belly until it turned red. That was a different time."
Adds Bill Blankenship, football coach of Union High in Tulsa: "I was de-pantsed in high school and taped to a goal post in college. It was just something you went through. ... Those same things wouldn't be acceptable today."
Click on link for a Grand Jury testimony and a graphic account of the Mepham High School hazing 'atrocities'.
According to the transcript, the victims would have kept silent about their ordeal if they had not required medical treatment for their injuries:
Not quick to recognize hazing
Officials at Alfred University, in western New York, thought they had quelled their hazing problems in the '70s. After a student, Chuck Stenzel, died in 1978 from alcohol poisoning and exposure to cold after being locked in a car trunk during a fraternity hazing, Alfred took steps to ban all forms of hazing.
|Teachers getting in the know
|Experts agree that even as many colleges are increasing education on school violence and bullying for future teachers, hazing in sports and other extracurricular groups has seldom been addressed.
"There's probably been none, in terms of formal training," says Jerry Graham, district superintendent in Peninsula, Ohio.
After his district's soccer hazing incident this year at Woodridge High School, Graham brought in a consultant from the Ohio High School Athletic Association to lead workshops on leadership and character. One of the bigger problems in high school sports is that many coaches aren't part of the teaching staffs and have no training on such issues as hazing.
"We have some places where they'll allow almost anybody to go out and coach," says Roger Blake, associate commissioner of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) that oversees sports at 1,350 schools.
Blake says California in 1998 began a program addressing hazing, but its funding ended in 2001 because of the state's financial crisis. The CIF has made available another program, but school districts must pay. To date only about 100 coaches have taken it.
Chuck Howell, assistant commissioner of the Colorado High School Activities Association, says, "I would estimate more than 50% of the coaches in our ranks are non-educators." Although Colorado coaches receive some hazing education during a 12- to 16-hour required course, Howell stresses "the thing you try to impress upon them is that they can't just show up on that campus from 4 to 6 every day and expect to coach. They need to know the culture of that school."
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has trained 75 instructors who are available statewide to address hazing as part of its "Citizenship Through Athletics" program. It's run by associate director Lloyd Mott, who was a high school athletics director for 32 years. He says he once thought nothing of having freshman players being made to carry all the team's equipment. But now he is keenly aware "that's how (hazing) starts. I've seen it snowball."
With hazing apparently on the rise and with so little education in place, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA) recognized an ever-pressing need to establish 50-state continuity on ending the problem. It hopes to circulate a hazing prevention handbook to 17,000 schools by next fall and make it available online at www.nfhs.org.
"I really hope the handbook has a hard-hitting and biting approach," says Elliot Hopkins, NFSHSA's director of educational services. "People's lives are being ruined and careers are being ended because of this. We've found grandfathers in the community were hazed, fathers were hazed and the sons are hazed."
Stenzel's death helped lead to New York becoming the first of 43 states to enact legislation to make hazing illegal. The laws vary greatly, and Pollard believes they need to be revisited.
But Alfred school officials were stunned in 1998 when intoxicated freshmen football players were seen staggering down a street in a hazing ritual. Some were hospitalized, and an investigation found the players were tied up and forced to drink alcohol until they vomited into a barrel.
"We found out this had been a long-standing tradition," says Pollard, named to head Alfred's hazing studies after university leaders realized there was no definitive research on the issue. About 10,000 athletes at 224 colleges were surveyed about their high school experiences, in conjunction with the NCAA.
One finding: despite only 12% of the athletes saying they had been hazed, 80% said they had been required to participate in dangerous or humiliating activities that fit the description of hazing.
"They thought it was something else," Pollard says. "It was across the board, urban, rural, by sport."
That common inability of for young people to recognize and define hazing was made clear in a recent USA TODAY interview with five students in Nashville at Glencliff High School. All five were members of the Students Taking a Right Stand (STARS) program and had participated in a "Respect and Protect" campaign aimed at curbing school violence.
Four of the five also said they were unaware of hazing among their peers, aside from gangs. But as they talked about the clubs, teams and groups they belonged to, issues of hazing came to light:
•Senior Kelly Petty, a drum major, said, "When we went to band camp, at this church, the older boys beat the younger boys. They would pull them off the top of the bunk bed and hit them with stuff in pillow cases when they were sleeping." She said that "stuff" included "radios, CD players, anything hard."
•Sophomore Will Gordon said he was forcibly put through a freshman initiation as a football player by six teammates at another high school he had attended. "They tied me to a chair and shaved my head and eyebrows. I saw it as all in fun. We didn't necessarily see it as violence. It was like bonding. No matter what, everybody had it done to them."
•Chris Johnson, a senior, said that on the football team, "When they come to the varsity, we drag them through the mud, stuff like that. If you're good, and you've got potential, we don't do it to you. But if you're no good, we do."
•Brittni Perkins, a junior, said she had gone through "fitting-in processes" to become part of a clique. "I had to do some things — give up my lunch money, or do their homework," she said. "It's something you see every day. It's something you basically have to get over."
The Alfred University study found about half of college athletes had been hazed in high school, and among those victims, "Many of them talked about being depressed and suicidal," Pollard says. "There were (13%) that said they thought about revenge, and whenever I hear about that I think about Columbine."
No studies exist that measure how widespread hazing was in the '60s and '70s, but experts agree it seems to be on the rise. Pollard attributes the perceived increase to changing family dynamics.
"Kids aren't spending a lot of time with adults," Pollard says. "Kids are relying more on teams for stability than they ever have. Not just sports, but any type of team — band, choir — the kids feel it's a privilege to be associated with that team and there needs to be some sort of rite of passage, that you have to earn your right to belong."
When establishing their hazing rituals, Pollard says some teenagers "look to the popular media, to Fear Factor, Survivor, those types of shows. ... I don't think they're the cause (of extreme hazing), but I think in some way it reinforces the behavior."
Parental involvement is crucial
When classes began this fall at Bridge Creek High in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, two of the first lectures students heard were from the county sheriff and the district attorney.
"We all delivered the same message, which was that hazing is unacceptable behavior and it will be dealt with," says Bridge Creek Superintendent Terry Brown. "If there's any more of this hazing, there will be charges filed."
Bridge Creek's harder line stems from an incident last spring, when high school baseball players held down and paddled eighth-graders with 1x4 boards in six incidents spread over three days. Two students were suspended and allowed to enter a state-run program where they could get counseling and perform community service instead of facing criminal charges.
"The parents of the kids who did that paddling thought we were too strict," Brown says. "The parents of the kids who were paddled thought we were too easy. To me, that says we were about where we should have been."
Erika Karres, a clinical assistant professor in education at the University of North Carolina and author of Violence Proof Your Kids Now, likens some hazing behavior to what she saw perpetrated by Nazis while growing up in Germany during World War II.
"When kids get together, whatever the most negatively creative thought one of them has is, it will be the common denominator," Karres says. "If there is one who's already committed violence somewhere else, that kid is going to dominate. It only happens in child and teen circles that the worst dominates the rest. There's never a team that says 'Let's stop it.' "
|For more information on hazing:
On the Internet:
Alfred University study on hazing: www .alfred.edu/news/html/hazing_study.html
And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to protect adolescents from bullying, harassment and emotional violence, by Ellen deLara and James Garbarino (The Free Press)
High School Hazing: When Rites Become Wrongs, by Hank Nuwer (Scholastic Library Publishing)
Violence Proof Your Kids Now, by Erika Karres, Ph.D, (Conari Press)
The abuse can have lifelong ramifications, says Ellen deLara, a Syracuse assistant professor of social work, who interviewed about 1,000 hazing victims during research for a book she co-authored, And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to protect adolescents from bullying, harassment and emotional violence.
"Just like someone who has been in a war, there can be heightened sensitivities, nightmares, flashbacks," deLara says. "They are carrying around an extreme amount of rage, and that plays out in their relationships. They get triggered by things that seem the slightest bit disrespectful."
DeLara says the most common comment from hazing victims is that "parents don't really have a clue" about the student-generated abuse.
She counts herself among the once-naive, and says she was drawn to the issue because "my own children were experiencing some of the issues around bullying and hazing in what I considered to be a very safe community high school" in upstate New York.
And deLara says all students in a school where hazing takes place are affected.
"They have to witness it, hear about it, wonder if it's going to happen to them," she says. "People quit sports teams. It's because they know they're next on the list."
Contributing: Don Collins
Everything you wanted to know about hazing at home and abroad -