Proper punishment for off-campus HS hazing?

In the burbs N of Chicago, there was a recent incident where HS senior girls initiated/hazed a group of their junior counterparts. The incident is discussed in this Pit thread.

The incident took place after school hours, and off of school property. Alcohol was involved, and some violent acts were committed requiring medical treatment. The juniors were apparently pelted with human excrement, animal offal, and other trash. Apparently some of the girls’ parents purchased the alcohol and some of the offal. As many as 100 people took part in this incident.

What do you believe is the appropriate punishment for which participants?

Apparently the HS has meted out 10-day suspensions to some of the seniors, and is considering expulsion. They say the activities violated the school’s hazing policy and sections of the Illinois School Code regarding activities of nonsanctioned student groups.

As might be expected, lawsuits are flying, charging that expulsions or 10-day suspensions are excessive.

Surprisingly, I tend to agree. I think that this would be best handled as a criminal matter. Both of the students and the parents. Perhaps students involved in extracurricular activities requiring codes of conduct might be removed from those activities.

I have two main reasons for not thinking this is a school matter. First, I am not sure the schools should be responsible for disciplining individuals for non-school sanctioned activities done off school grounds and outside of schoolhours. Second, I question the process students are afforded concerning suspensions. In my experience, they can be meted out based on incomplete information by far-from-perfect decisionmakers.

One argument in favor of suspension/expulsion is if students are fearful of the antagonists in school.

Note, I am not particularly concerned with the argument that these stupid kids will be disadvantaged with respect to their college prospects, etc. They fucked up big time and got caught. They SHOULD expect some serious repercussions.

Any thoughts?

I recall this is usually called “Assault and Battery”.

I’d say that proper punishment is prison time in a real prison, not some “white collar crime” prison. Punishment for acts like this should be far more severe when it must be meted out against those brought up in advantage and privilige for such people have no excuse, whatsoever, for their acts.

[ul][li]I agree that the proper punishment for these actions is criminal prosecution. [/li][li]I disagree that point (1) in any way mitigateds the penalties that the school should impose.[/ul][/li]I find the argument that school suspensions/expulsions are somehow inappropriate for off-campus, unsanctioned behavior to be seriously flawed. These juveniles have demonstrated quite emphatically that they represent a danger to other students. They have demonstrated even more emphatically that they are unfit to represent their school in any activity considered honorable. Suspension for the first seems quite appropriate, along with expulsions for those secuely identified as “ringleaders” or “instigators” of the most serious hazings. All parties involved should receive a 1-year disqualification from any extracuricular activity in which students or teams purport to represent the school/student body, including athletics and class offices.

Part of my reason for disfavoring school punishment here is that I feel it suggests that the school is in some way responsible for students’ behavior outside of school. Which I feel sort of lessens the responsibility of the students and their parents.

I also think it is tough enough for schools to control what takes place within their walls, and related to officially sanctioned activities.

My understanding is that this specific incident was the outgrowth of what had previously been an annual “powderpuff football game.” The school had previously prohibited this function, in response to increases in “hazing-like” activities.

I repeat my concern that, in my experience, suspensions often appear to be meted out very quickly following less than perfect process, based upon far from complete information. Puts the school in a tough place. What if they act too quickly and too harshly, exposing themselves to a civil suit and related costs and potential damages?

I think that the criminal justice system is precisely set up to address this type of situation. Further, any aggreived parties may opt to seek civil damages. I do not see why school action on top of this is necessary, required, or even desireable.

I do appreciate - spiritus - your distinction that by their actions the seniors have shown themselves to be a danger to fellow students. That would distinguish this from, say, a student getting into a workplace altercation with a nonstudent.

Should the junior participants - the “victims” - face any school punishment? After all, they apparently willingly participated in an prohibited activity.

I guess I should also point out, I’m not sure that the students deserve serious prison time as Dogface suggests.

As I understand it, the worst injuries were stiches in one girl’s head, and a broken ankle. I do not mean to diminish the severity of what happened … well, maybe I do.

IMO, the greatest transgression was committed by the parents who bought kegs of beer for these high schoolers.

Nor do I agree that punishment should be based upon the economic status of the actors.

I think that the students should be handled by the criminal justice system, not the school, and prosecuted for assult.

But the victims should not have to go to school with their attackers every day. At the very least, the attackers should be sent to an alternative school and not be allowed in the same building as the victims, on the grounds that the victims have a right to an education, and there is no way that they will be able to focus on their studies when they could meet their assailants around any corner.

Dinsdale I suggest that you’re operating under a wrongful premise - that is:

punishing the students for out of school behavior some how is equated to the school having some responsability for the kids during that time (“they have a difficult enough time controling the kids while they’re in school”)

I submit that by suspending/expelling the students for their behavoir out of school, they are not attempting to assume any responsability for those behaviors, any claim of controling etc, but holding the students responsible even if a criminal court does not.

Let me give you another example, perhaps -

Sally and Cathy are not friends, in fact enemies. Off school property, in front of witnesses, Cathy threatened to kick Sally’s ass the next time she saw her. Do you really believe the school shouldn’t attempt to punish Cathy? allow Cathy to go to school where Sally is a potential victim?

I would say that in this case especially because of the potential for criminal charges, it’s imparetive that the school does it’s level best to keep those who assaulted out of range of their victims, where the victims could be subject to threats and intimidations to not testify.

Lemme guess–you’re from a similarly priviliged and wealthy background as they are. Such people must be taught and taught with utmost and merciless severity that their wealth and social standing give them NO right to abrogate our laws. Their very position in society requires that they be treated with as draconian as is absolutly possible measures.

They committed assault. They committed battery. They committed acts of bioterrorism. They should be punished under the appropriate statutes and sentenced to the harshest possible sentences. Not only the perpetrators but every member of that priviliged social stratum must be reminded that the hammer can and will come down on them, too.

Otherwise, we’re just looking at another Enron in another generation.

How can it be assault if it was consensual?
If i suggest to someone that to endear themself to me they let me pelt them with feces and offal and they agree,how is that assault?

Guess away, Dogface - but when I was growing up in a bungalow on the NW side and attending Chicago public schools, we perceived a slight difference between our environs and the north shore. Too bad you weren’t around to set us straight.

I never suggested the kids involved should not be punished. But, I believe the punishment should fit the crime. And, as someone who has broken an ankle (and a wrist and a toe) and received 8 staples in his scalp over the past 5 years or so, well, IMO neither injury is the end of the world.

Are such physical injuries necessarily worse than smearing someone with excrement? Heck, my broken bones and split scalp healed. I’m not sure what kind of scars I’d bear if I felt it was appropriate for my parents to buy me kegs of beer when I was in high school, and that it was somehow appropriate to join with others as a group with the sole goal of publicly humiliating others. I see harmful results for both the people doling out the humiliation as well as those who feel for some reason it is appropriate for them to passively accept it.

Yes, they should be punished. But how severely? I am not a criminal lawyer. I wonder how severely people are generally punished for assault and/or battery? The only recent case I personally know of is a guy who was in a fight, and was sentenced to a period of work/school release jail. He was able to attend college, while reporting to jail for nights. How about community service? Probation? Mandatory counselling?

I don’t think I’m being overly sympathetic to these kids when I suggest that the implications of a lengthy suspension or expulsion might be excessive in response to the violation committed. I am not for a second suggesting that the kids involved should be simply let free, or allowed to “buy” their way out of any punishment.

wring - I guess we disagree here. The threat you describe is an assault. It is punishable under criminal law, and the victim has the right to seek civil damages. Should she seek and obtain a protective order, the school would need to adopt procedures to enforce it. Maybe through home schooling, or contracting with another school district to teach the “offenders.” But I see no reason for the school to independently punish.

What other off-school acts do you wish the school to punish? Shoplifting? Vandalism? Drug or alcohol use? Coloring outside the lines at home?

How about your boss? If the school should independently punish behavior students do away from school during nonschool hours, why should employers be any different? IMO we already have too many drug tests, which fail to distinguish between workplace and non-workplace activity. Maybe employees should be held accountable at work for gender, racial, or religious discrimination done at home.

eff - law school is a long time ago, but I seem to recall a distinction between assault and battery. Based solely upon my recollection from classes long ago that I probably didn’t do too well in:

Assault is a realistic threat, that causes the victim to fear harm. Say I’m standing in front of you with my fists clenched, and say “I’m going to beat you up.” Or calling someone names could be a verbal assault. Brandishing a gun or knife could be assault with a deadly weapon.

Battery is an impermissable touching. Hitting someone, breaking their ankle, or smearing them with feces is battery, not an assault.

In very general terms, you may consider the threat to be the assault, the action is the battery.

I also seem to recall from tort class (to distinguish from criminal law) that you are not able to to consent to a battery. Which led to one of the highlights of my law school career.
I asked in class: "What if 2 parties mutually agree to participate in activity that will likely result in mutual injury?"
Teacher asked: “What did you have in mind, Mr. Dinsdale?”
Me: "I was thinking about a little S&M or B&D."
Teacher: “NEXT!”

Since the ‘victims’ were willing, I don’t think they should be jailed. However, they should be required to do a few years of really shitty ‘community’ service. I put community in quotes because it should be something that is not remotely rewarding, appreciated, or satisfying…like stomping down a landfill or washing the insides of sewer pipes.

I’ve never understood the American obsession with expelling students, which increases the odds the students will become a burden on society.

Criminal prosecution, though, absolutely. Give them some shame sentencing and community service. 400 hours of cleaning up public toilets should do very nicely.

Not really; they have to drop out to not recieve schooling. By the time you get around to experllation, you’ve done something very, very wrong. And since they took out all the more… painful pnishments that might set such disrupting influences out of the classoom, schools cannot deal effectively with such individuals. Anyway, they still have to get an education and have opportunities to do so.

Works for me.

re: “willingness” of victims. From what I read, the girls understood a couple of things:

  1. There would be stuff poured on their heads and so on.

  2. They wouldn’t be ‘hurt’.

  3. if they attempted to run away after it’d started, that it would go worse for them.

Plus, they were surrounded and out numbered. Exactly how much resisitence do you think they should have put up?

Dinsdale - in answer only to things where another party in the establishment was threatened /intimidated. although for a school, I suspect that if the student were accused of dealing drugs outside of school grounds, they may have more reason to offer different place for that student’s education.

And, yes, if there’s an assault outside company grounds by one employee on another, the company should immediately take steps to insure that the victim is protected.

See the Soprano’s star for intimidation of witnesses.

That they willingly participated in an event knowing that this was a caveat puts them partially at fault, IMO.


I have not heard or read that the victims have expressed fear over being in school with the other girls. Have you?

Would there have been any complaints - not to mention a demand for punishment - had the cops not shown up, and videotape not been taken?

Schools should not be doling out punishment for activities that occur off of school grounds. (Except at off-campus school functions). The only exception to this would be punishement as ordered by a court. If parents and courts can’t handle it, it is assinine to think that the school should.

As for punishment in this incident? Assuming it did not occur on school grounds, the school should butt out. Schools are for education, not controlling a students life outside of its hallowed halls.

You do realize that the victims were children, don’t you?