Are you a: Principal or Athletic or Activity Director?
By Caudill (CMS) Kathy on July 12, 2014
As a school administrator you have a leadership role in preventing and responding to hazing. You set the climate for civility and establish a culture of respect and learning in your school. This is reflected in your school's athletic and other school activity programs. The following can help you establish and maintain a climate that is respectful and deters hazing.
- Developing and communicating policies and procedures
- Setting expectations for coaches and other staff members
- Staff training
Conducting pre-season meetings
- Student Assistance Programs
Developing and communicating policies and procedures
- Develop a policy that clearly prohibits hazing and promotes respect and civility. Make sure the policy outlines the procedures to follow for reporting hazing activities and the actions that staff members will follow. (See Sample Anti-hazing Policy.) It is better to have procedures clearly outlined before a hazing situation happens than to try to pull them together after an incident occurs. Having clear consequences outlined for these activities is also preferable to handling them on a case-by-case basis.
- Communicate the policy through a variety of written and spoken methods. Communication of the policy and its rationale will help the policy have the desired deterrent effect. In addition to written methods, use formal and informal meetings with staff members to communicate expectations regarding hazing.
Setting expectations for coaches and other staff members
- Set expectations for coaches and other staff members and model the expected behavior. Although your policy will likely focus on student behavior, it should also include expected and prohibited behavior by staff members. Reporting hazing activities or possible hazing activities should be an expectation and a part of your policy.
- Investigate reports of hazing activity and follow-up through according to the procedures outlined in your policy. A policy alone will not necessarily produce desired behaviors or deter negative behaviors. Your follow through will not only help you sort out the specific situation, but send a message that you take hazing seriously. (See Investigating hazing reports.)
Conducting staff training
- Make sure that staff members are trained on the policy and procedures regarding hazing. This training can be a special stand-alone training or in combination with training on other school policies. In either case, sufficient time should be devoted to the topic to clearly communicate the importance of not hazing and to discuss staff and student behavior expectations. Procedures for reporting hazing activities as well as accessing Student Assistance Programs or other counseling resources should be thoroughly discussed.
Holding pre-season meetings
- Make pre-season meetings with participants in school activities and their parents mandatory. Include hazing on the agenda. These meetings, prior to the start of the activity season, are an opportunity to clearly state expectations, review policies, and provide other important information for participants and their parents or guardians. This can set the tone for the season, getting everyone on the same page as well provide some legal protection making sure students and parents are informed of expectations, rules, and other significant events.
Using Student Assistance Teams
- See that Student Assistance Programs are available to help students get help for behaviors that get in the way of learning. All students and staff should know how to access student assistance services and access should be simple. Staff and students should be able to go to one person or place to deal with most any problem, or even if they are not sure about the underlying issue. Student assistance is there to help assess possible causes and match that information with appropriate services in the school or community. Staff and students are more likely to address behaviors that cause concern if they know there is a system in place to back them up. These services should be available to help all the parties involved in a hazing incident: the victims and bystanders as well as those doing the hazing.
- If your school does not have a Student Assistance Team in place, find a good contact in your school's counseling office and establish clear referral procedures in the event of hazing.