"It’s a type of bulling.”

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Hazing is often a humiliating and sometimes dangerous initiation ritual that is now in the news. Arizona law describes hazing as an “intentional, knowing, or reckless act, committed by a student, whether individually or in concert with other persons, against another student.”

“It’s a tradition,” said South Mountain High School junior, Talayna Barnes, who was on South’s track team for two years. “It’s how new athletes gain their acceptance from other members of the team.”

Mark Carter, South’s varsity football coach, says hazing shouldn’t happen. “(It’s) an invasion of someone’s space,” said Carter. “It’s just real disrespectful. You never know the kind of day someone’s having and you pour milk in their helmet, then there’s a fight on the football field.”

“I think hazing can be harmless fun if it’s done properly,” said Barnes. “When people take hazing too far it can turn into bullying or something (worse).”

Recently, five football players at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona were charged with committing crimes while hazing teammates. One, 17-year-old Nathaniel William Thomas, is being charged as an adult for Hazing By Makayla Lambert sexual assault, numerous counts of molestation, kidnapping, and aggravated assault.

Carter urges students to report anyone involved in hazing.

“People have to learn to become leaders and I know there’s a big thing about snitching,” he said. “But you have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. So, the leaders need to step up and stop it. The player who’s being hazed will be grateful, because it’s a type of bulling.”

Barnes still believes that hazing can be done properly.

“I…think it’s important that if team members are going to haze someone, they should know the person and have a good relationship with (them) so they…(can) be able to discern the difference between hurting someone and playing a lighthearted joke,” she said.

Carter made it clear he wants no hazing on his team.

“I’ve been coaching for 13 years now,” he said. “If there’s any type of hazing, you’re off this team. There’s zero tolerance of hazing.”

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