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14 Jan 2013

Emotional Impact on my child of Initiation at high school
Hi there,
I wonder if you could offer me some advice. My daughter heard about initiation last year and asked me please to find out from her high school, which she started this year, that they didn''t have initiation there. Firstly, let me emphasize that to us initiation / hazing means anything involving the kids having to do anything that would embarress or humiliate them at the amusement of other students, etc. I contacted the school and was assured that they have no initiation or hazing, but only a week of orientation, where the kids get to know the school and what''s where / when, etc. However, last week the teachers and matrics told them they would have to walk around for TWO WEEKS with a " steering wheel"  and a " licence"  and " number plate"  and they would have to walk around, either in groups, or even worse, on their own, and get signatures from other students and these students could make them do anything, such as sing, dance, wash their " car"  or such in order to get the signatures, which the teachers insist on them getting. They also have to " indicate"  when they turn a corner and such. While some people are reading this and probably cracking up, thinking this must be hilarious. It is not, trust me. My child has been traumatized since hearing of this and has been crying almost non-stop. She is extremely shy and the only person she''ll sing in front of is me, not even her dad or any other member of her family. I really think this practice is stupid and should, after all of these years, be done away with. All it does is break down a child''s confidence and embarress and humiliate them. To me, the teachers are giving other students the right to bully children. Because this is essentially bullying. All for the amusement of other students and at the expense of my child''s self-confidence. I sent a note saying that I am giving her permission to not take part if she doesn''t want to and for that reason didn''t send a " steering wheel" , " licence"  or " number plate"  with her. I really believe that the school misled me in not giving me all the information. What is happening is not orientation, it is initiation / hazing. Please can you tell me if you agree with me on the fact that this is traumatizing and embarressing and humiliating for the kids and can''t do them any good, only bad? I''d appreciate your input. Kind Regards.
Answer 5,766 views
Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Any teacher or Head who tolerates let alone encourages hazing or initiation of any form should be sacked promptly. There is no possible excuse for it, no possible benefit for anyone, and potential significant harm to the victims of it.
The degree to which teachers apparently encourage this primitive practice in the examples you quote is disgraceful. I'd firstly approach the head and say this contradicts the assurances you were given, and is a definite breach of the basic human rights of all the children involved, encouraging bullying and other bad practices, and that unless it is immediately and permanently banned, you will approach the Human Rights Commission, the local MEC for Education and the media, to expose this thoroughly bad practice.
There is nothing whatsoever funny about such sanctioned bullying, and it fails my traditional test - if the person it's aimed at isn't spontaneously laughing with genuine and spontaneous enjoyment, then it isn't a joke.
And what I'd insist on isn't simply an exemptipon for my own child ( which could lead to further teasing and embarrassment, etc ) but a firm and final end to the pathetic practice altogether.
I disagree with Jenna on this - it is NEVER EVER beneficial to ANY child, and there is no possible justification for it.
And it is NOT "character building" a feeble excuse too often used to justify all sorts of bad practices, including bullying, bad food and compulsory sports. There isn't a shred of proper evidence of any benefits, these claims are invented to justify a process that satisfies far darker and uglier human instincts.
The mere fact that most kids survive, and SOME kids might come to enjoy it, is no justification. The only "life lesson" it teaches is that people with power are allowed to abuse it to bully people with less power, and that the embarrassment and discomfort of an individual is irrelevant even to the institution ( such as the school ) which is supposed to be protecting them. It teaches a child that she must ignore her own feelings and wishes as irrelevant, to fit in and beg acceptance from the stronger and more powerful people around her.
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