Handling the Halloween Haze Craze

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With hazing of Mamaroneck High School freshmen apparently on the rise, parents, school leaders and police are

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

taking steps to keep the upcoming Halloween weekend – long known as prime time for such incidents – from turning ugly.

 

 

“Hazing is definitely a crime,” said Det. Robert Reynolds, the Town of Mamaroneck youth officer. Incidents of older MHS students hazing freshmen seem to be more prevalent this year than in the past, he said.

 

In fact, theLoop has learned that one local family, whose son was apparently "hazed" already this year at MHS, has met with the Westchester District Attorney and is considering filing criminal charges. The family does not want to go public about this. Alleged hazing incidents reported by residents last June  received quite a bit of response from loop readers.

 

Students involved in such activity could be charged with anything from a violation to a class A misdemeanor depending on the incident, Reynolds said.

 

Parents, who have reached out to school officials for help, say their freshmen children, primarily boys, have been chased, had food thrown on them and been forced against their will into cars at the hands of older kids, at a rate that is particularly alarming.

 

Bracing for what is known as “Freshman Friday” – the Friday night before Halloween during which hazing commonly takes place – parents this week reached out to MHS and district officials for help, asking them to make the safety of their children a priority.

 

They said outreach and intervention on the part of the school and police are vital because targets of hazing rarely speak up, fearing they may ultimately pay a bigger price for “ratting out” an offender.

 

“We encourage you to adopt a zero tolerance policy for anyone associated with hazing, threatening or terrorizing other students,” a letter drafted by parents said, adding that the warning signs of future activity are there.

 

Recent news events should serve as a further word of caution and a fortuitous opportunity for intervention before a student in our school district is seriously hurt – or even worse -as a result of preventable bullying,” the letter said.

 

The parents, who did not want to be named, said they were pleased with the school district’s response, which includes working with area police departments and a recorded telephone message going out to all homes with high school age children Tuesday night.

 

“We are taking proactive communications measures this year to encourage parents to discuss the issue with their children and to reinforce our message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated and that there will be consequences,” said Debbie Manetta, the Mamaroneck School District spokeswoman.

 

Lt. Antonino Rigano, Village of Larchmont police department spokesman, said his department, like the Town of Mamaroneck’s,  plans to beef up patrols this weekend, particularly in places, such as Fountain Square, where hundreds of older teens are known to gather on Halloween weekend nights.

 

 “We’ll take steps to make sure they don’t cause any damage and that they don’t get into fights,” he said.

 

  Parents of freshman said they hope such measures will enable their children to enjoy their Halloween weekend without falling victim to older kids’ pranks – or worse.

35 thoughts on “Handling the Halloween Haze Craze

  1. I am a Mamaroneck High School student, I am in my junior year. I think this whole conversation is ridiculous. I have hung out with a lot of freshman that had just gotten paddled and willingly gone along with it, as well as the seniors that performed the “hazing”. Nothing has been an attack and I am insulted that people think my friends are attackers and/or victims in this situation

  2. In regard to BOBO’s comment, “While I appreciate your promise that “noone” will be hurt during hazing, I doubt you have any medical background to make that call.” I think you are blowing this a little bit out of proportion if you think that a high schooler needs “medical background” to assess whether or not a kid is hurt after being in a car with loud music… Come on: this isn’t a war, you don’t need to treat it like one.

    And how is advising someone to take a remedial English class instead of “hanging out on C wall during a free period” [i]not[/i] considered a personal attack?

  3. I just received a phone call from my 6th grade son—I still need to get to the bottom of this—but the bottom line –a kid (high school?) pulled a KNIFE on my son in flint park—called him a homo and threatened him in some other manner—now maybe the knife was fake—my son was VERY reluctant to discuss this because he is afraid this kid will find him—
    We cannot tolerate this bulll****

  4. “Proud Hazer”,
    I hope you are taking a remedial English course instead of hanging out on C wall during a free period. While I appreciate your promise that “noone” will be hurt during hazing, I doubt you have any medical background to make that call. Please do us a favor and do not haze any of your “friends” this year and I am sure everyone will be better off.

  5. Okay, so I’ll admit I graduated in ’09, and a lot can change by then, but I’ll repeat a very important point again that I wrote earlier. In almost all instances of “hazing”, everyone involved is consenting to whatever is going on, be it face-paint or condiments or whatever.

    For the girls, it’s *very* tame and just for a laugh, if anything it’s a very small minority of girls who would walk into class one day freshman year with some ketchup still in their hair or something and that’s it.

    For the guys, the idea that you always need to watch your back while going through Senior Lot or walking home as a freshman is complete BS. I know high school can be petrifying for freshman, but there’s simply no need. There might be a total of a half-dozen friends who want to convince a freshman that they know very well on a wild ride (which is stupid for everyone involved), but I guarantee that a group won’t lynch some unfortunate boy at random into a paddling in the middle of Leatherstocking Trail or something ridiculous.

    I’m in no way defending hazing or harassment, incidents like the one “Also Concerned” and “Jack” wrote about are pretty disturbing and should be stopped, albeit not in the “KILL ALL CHILDREN BORN AFTER 1986!!!” vein some of you have been inching towards. Look, most of the students at Mamaroneck are great kids, but around this time every year since I was a freshman in 2005, some story breaks of a concerned parent just hearing about “Freshman Friday” makes a mountain out of a molehill, and it leaks to the other parents and the local blogs and things always get out of hand.

  6. what is the problem here? i mean honestly, WTF? We can’t agree that hazing/bullying are generally bad things that shouldn’t be tolerated?

    This is disturbing on so many levels.

  7. i went through the system and was hazed the worst of my class. they never forced anything on me they never made me do anything i didnt want to do my seniors became like my older brothers. noone is trying to hurt the precious freshman of 2011. it seems they are far more coddled than we were if there is an entire blog devoted to someones daughter not getting ketchup in her hair. if and when we haze noone will be in danger. i specifically pick out my friends from the below class who want to be shown a good time and engage in tradition. if your kid doesnt want to be a part of it thats fine with us we will ignore them but unfortunatly most of them want our attention.

  8. ok, so from these comments we can deduce the following, i think:
    1) hazing/bullying is OKAY as long as no one gets hurt…and i guess hurt has alternate definitions depending upon who you are–but the first part of the statement strikes me as oxymoronic–so it’s ok to use racial or religious slurs–since no one gets hurt?? (please note tongue firmly in cheek–just pointing out the rather obvious slippery slope)
    2) parents in our district are too stupid to work so they don’t work.
    3) Our district/village/town whatever appears to have a goodly share of self-important, over-privledged prats or cowering over-coddled wusses…

    Sound about right?

  9. “Stop the bombing,”
    If you are a senior, the freshman parents are more than likely from the same generation as your parents. You can check with a teacher about the definition of generation if you need to.
    You sound like another superior young adult being brought up in the Mamaroneck School District.

  10. yeah if you let your freshmen children go out roaming the manor like the degenerates you let them be then perhaps they might encounter the OLDER degenerates who are also in the manor looking to cause trouble

    learn to say no

  11. Just reading this is kind of comical.
    I go to MHS and i am a senior and there’s really no point in writing about how stupid all you parents are, because you are all too worried about your poor little babies to even listen to what anyone who is actually is in the high school is saying, but i would just like to point out a few things:

    1. When i was a freshman, i was afraid. it’s part of high school, it’s part of college: the little kids are scared that the big kids are going to hurt them. I never walked in senior lot, I never walked alone in the manor, and guess what? I never got paddled. The only kids i know who got paddled were those who were already friends (or enemies) of older seniors because of prior relationships with them. And my parents never flipped out like all your new generation parents are. SO just calm down.

    2. Please just get jobs and stop bothering us/complaining/worrying about your babies all the time. They will be fine. Nothing will happen and you can sleep at night.

    3. this is just something i found funny. An earlier commenter, CONCERNED CITIZEN X, commented that “parking on rockland 1st tuesday of the month [is illegal]. (also if your children have a license that says ‘Class DJ’ kindly remind them it is against the law to pack a minivan with 7 kids and drive to white castle.”….really concerned citizen x? that is what you have to contribute? that is what you are concerned about? “We cannot tolerate the actions”??!?! Please, get a life.
    editor we would have taken this post down..(“bombing”: who do you think *do* work hard so that you can live in this District anyway? that’s right…your parents….) but bobo’s response would have had no context.

  12. “nothing is going to happen to your child unless they bring it upon themselves.” MHS student II

    “There is a huge difference between abuse and some friendly hazing.” Wil-E

    These two comments, one apparently from a student and one from a parent, perfectly illustrate why there is a problem in this community. There is no such thing as friendly hazing and the victims don’t “bring it on themselves.” Even if freshmen participate in these rituals (to belong, to be popular) does not make them okay. If the police know that Fountain Square and certain areas are problems, why are teens allowed to congregate there? The school must have a zero tolerance policy. Pouring ketchup or mustard on someone is hazing. Ask the school superintendent or principal if you think otherwise.

  13. Student,
    It sounds from all of your stories, that you have spent more than 4+ years at the high school. Maybe you should pick on someone of drinking age like yourself. Why don’t you go to your local watering hole on Friday, and go pour ketchup on the oldest or biggest guy or girl there and see how that goes. Or try paddling them.
    And as to the other high school aged kids who think “hazing” is ok. Why do the players from the varsity sports get away with it? Maybe if the coaches had a backbone, they would kick these kids off the team to show them they are not as untouchable as they think they are.
    If one particular Mamk coach showed discipline, there would be more NYS Championship banners hanging from the rafters.

  14. I wonder what the Seniors who are commenting here and denying that any of this is happenning will say if pictures/videos of these acts end up on Facebook this year. Embarrassing? How about when the links to the published pictures are shared with the press and police? Still not good enough?

    Dear Students (and Parents), 9th graders were being chased by seniors with paddles and hockey sticks two weeks ago on a Friday night in the Manor near Saint John’s Episcopal Church.

    When I arrived on the scene – there was a Silver Acura MDX (SUV) racing around the streets, the young man who was driving would slow down, the back door opened and two young man with a paddles in hand jumped out and started to chase and yell threats to the younger kids. It got noisy, the 9th grade girls were scared and were running – but the 9th grade boys were the ones who were really being chased by the young men with the paddles and hockey sticks begging for them to stop. I pulled up closer in my car, turned on my brights and yes you guessed it, the young men with the paddles let the boys go free, and ran towards their friends SUV and hopped in while the vehicle was still moving and left the scene.

    So, enough said. It happened. It’s real. If you are embarrassed and upset that the school is getting a bad rap, then help stop this behavior. It’s way to easy to snap photo’s and videos these days. Everyone has a phone/digital camera and within minutes, the facts go live online and are public.

    Whether we have kids in the school or not the “hazing tradition” must end. I just hope it does not end with a MHS Senior caught with paddle in hand or driving away after the terror crime is committed and sadly find that its all posted online, for everyone to see. That really would be sad.

  15. Hazing is illegal if and only if there is a “substantial risk of physical injury”. I understand how the hazing of freshman boys is therefore illegal, as paddling clearly inflicts pain upon them. What I can’t grasp is how pouring ketchup or mustard on freshman girls, as the 2010 senior girls did, incites that risk. Hazing (and I am speaking in this comment about the hazing of girls) as is done at Mamaroneck High School and has been for years is simply a friendly initiation process, embarrassment being the worst injury that could occur. If anything, it has gotten much less violent and dangerous over the years, contrary to what parents may believe. No freshman has been forced to chug or even drink alcohol against her will in years, an act that was formerly highly prevalent and also extremely hazardous. With regard to the writing on cars, there is no denying that it got out of hand and things were written that should not have been. That being said, juniors’ cars are written on every single year with slurs just as offensive as those penned on a car parked (illegally) in senior lot last week. It is never taken seriously because it is common knowledge that these words are not written as personal attacks; rather, they are directed towards the junior class as a whole when they break the unwritten rules of high school. This tradition, like hazing, has grown progressively less severe. The car drawn on last week was the first this year, and there was a visible (and fairly reasonable) explanation for writing on it (not what was written, but the act of writing on it). In the past, several cars have been vandalized for no reason whatsoever, or merely because of a personal dislike of the junior driving it.
    Hazing as it has been performed for the past few years is not illegal, nor can it even really be called hazing. Hazing is forceful initiation; at the high school, freshmen are given the choice of whether or not to join, and their phones are not taken from them — they are able to call their parents and be picked up at any point. Underage drinking and parking on Rockland on the first Tuesday of the month are illegal, yes. But how many of the parents wholeheartedly backing these attacks of the senior girls cannot honestly say they did not drink before they were 21 or have never parked illegally? For that matter, how many of them have never jaywalked? Driven over a speed limit? These laws are constantly being broken, and yet much more attention is paid to a law that has yet to be broken this year.

  16. it must be that all concerned parents had a bad experience as a freshman, or have only heard that a friend of a friend [who we all know doesn’t exist, and is just there to make a great story] was killed by chugging to much beer, or hurt by being paddled too hard. clearly this is not the case if every year freshman are excited to be hazed and willingly go with seniors. so please stop overreacting, its really not an issue.

  17. i would hardly refer to that as an attack, MHS Student is posting false information, and the situation is taken care of, so why would he/she even bother bringing it up? i would also like to say that this so called “hazing” is not what everyone hypes it up to be. It is what is has been in the past, and that is an initiation for the freshman. The seniors aim is not to hurt anyone, only to befriend the freshman in a traditional way. Upperclassman are not malicious people and in no way are intending to hurt anyone at all.

  18. There is no reason to why the class of 2011 should have to see this when NOTHING has even happened and NOTHING is going to happen. All of this is lies and rumors spread by gossiping mothers who have nothing else better to do than sit and be worried about their children. Hazing used to be something that was fun for the girls and yea maybe some ketchup was poured on you but so what, then you get to do it as a senior. Tradition is now ruined thanks to all the awesome parents in this town.

  19. first of all the words written on the car were not in sharpie, but in washable car paint, that was gone after a trip to the car wash. The parking spot was illegal, and it was illegal for her to be parked in senior lot since the parking pass did not match the license plate of the car. The principal sent out a letter in august specifically stating that no one but the seniors were permitted to park on school grounds. maybe your friend should have thought before she made her actions.

  20. I think that the majority of the seniors this year are not hazing however there are a small group of people who are. Perhaps these people are the ones who vandalized my friends car. Her boyfriend (a senior) parked her car along with her in senior lot using his parking permit. She arrived to discover her car was vandalized with racist slurs written in sharpie. Maybe you should publicize that story also. I think it is about time that people really find out all the problems at the high school that are hidden to protect its reputation.
    editrix we received the report about that car but when we arrived, we were told it was gone and no car there appeared to be vandalized. next time, email us at tips@theloopny.com

  21. I am not trying to disrespect anybody. I just find it disgraceful that this has been blown to such epic proportions. The only disrespect that is occurring, is the stereotyping of the senior grade as menaces. As I said before, nothing is going to happen to your child unless they bring it upon themselves. So please stop complaining to the school system. Because by doing so you are causing seniors who should be worried about the college process to instead have meetings with their parents and the administration. It is just unnecessary. The amount of ignorance is comical.

  22. We experienced this horrendous behavior when one of my children was ‘hazed’ as a freshman along with a friend…shoved into a car on school grounds, threatened with violence and headed to the woods for a paddling. Harm was avoided when a police officer noticed erratic driving and pulled the vehicle over. The younger boys, no doubt fearful of retribution, jumped out and denied any problems and unfortunately the cops let the offenders go without any questioning… despite the presence of paddles in the car. MHS, including the superintendent at the time, made every effort to avoid acknowledging the incident. The father of the instigator laughed it off at the guidance counselor’s office, saying his kid survived being hazed in the past. CYCLE OF VIOLENCE!! The guidance counselor minimized the issue. To my own son’s horror, although the parents of other boys targeted that day opted to let it drop, I filed charges. Unfortunately, days before the hearing the ADA told me I was unlikely to see any significant outcome in court. It was clear she didn’t think it merited her time. Ultimately, I let this go to spare my own child the additional stress. I’m heartened to see there are other parents and community members who are willing to take a stand. With a new superintendent and interim principal, perhaps we can see progress. As far as families go, most are wonderful. I’m deeply saddened to know that there are parents who think this is acceptable, even worse.. a rite of passage. And I’m disillusioned that lip service seems to be given to the ‘no tolerance’ policy within our district.

  23. hahahah amen MHS SENIOR 11
    everyone needs to CALM DOWN. talk about making a mountain out of a molehill….

    editrix no disrespect will be tolerated on this site.

  24. My 4th child is a freshman. My child has no fear of being hazed, as 3 older siblings have attended/currently attend the high school without incident. And like “a senior at mamk” none of their friends had incidents either. I am not saying that nothing happens ever, and if it does, I agree with “DAVID” that it is completely and entirely the parents’ fault. Their names and their kids’ names should be made public, regardless of their age. Might get the point across!

  25. Last year my son got slammed with a bunch of paint, unfortunately, it ruined clothes. My friend’s daughter and her friend were grabbed, thrown into a car and driven and left on other side of town. The second example is a bit creepy and dangerous.

  26. I think “concerned” has a good point. It definitely used to be more of a prank rather than abuse. In the early 90’s underclassmen used to feel left out if they weren’t hazed by upper classmen. It meant you weren’t on their radar and they probably didn’t like you/respect you. Amongst the sport teams it was a way of bonding with the next generation. I remember being asked if I wanted to be kidnapped during the school day so I could miss a few classes. There is a huge difference between abuse and some friendly hazing. Paddling = abuse; getting taped to a tree until someone could rescue you = hazing. Any beatings that break skin = abuse; egging/shaving cream = hazing. And remember kiddies, if you tp my house once, it’s funny- if you tp my house twice, I’m going to put my hazing shoes on!!!

  27. I don’t see why this is so hard to enforce. the problem lies primarily with the parents of the perpetrators. have the police go to the parents and warn them that their names and their kids’ names will be on a public wall of shame throughout the community if their kids haze, and that yes, it is a criminal offense. the simple fact is that kids are spoiled and don’t get punished by their parents when they misbehave.

  28. Going off what Senior at Mamaroneck said, any “hazing” seems to be among sports teams or students who know each other well, although that of course doesn’t make hazing condonable. I’d safely assume no one at the high school would risk kidnapping charges by abducting a random freshman walking home from school, which is what this is being made out to be (as it has EVERY. YEAR.)

    As everyone who grew up in this town knows, any kind of trouble would probably be at Fountain Square on Halloween, that place usually looks like a warzone the morning of November 1st.

  29. Remind your children that hazing is a crime.

    Just like underage drinking.

    And parking on rockland 1st tuesday of the month. (also if your children have a license that says ‘Class DJ’ kindly remind them it is against the law to pack a minivan with 7 kids and drive to white castle.

    We cannot tolerate these actions!

  30. I don’t know if it’s just me but I have never witnessed a hazing or heard a testimony by someone who was hazed. Its been four years and now my sibling is a freshman, I don’t expect her or anyone of her friends will be hazed. The hazing [i]seems[/i] to be coming from the sports teams and certain groups, but as of now its all hearsay.
    I think by saying that hazing is bigger than it is insults me and any other upperclassman who thinks it absurd to participate in such an activity.

  31. This situation is out-of-control. Boys are being pulled into cars by upperclassmen, “paddled” until they can’t sit for days and sometimes forced to drink and worse. The kids and parents are afraid to speak up due to a fear of their child being targeted further. This is criminal behavior and should be treated as such. What might used to have been a “prank” has grown more violent and dangerous. There has to be a zero tolerance policy and it has to be strongly enforced. Now!!

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