The Harrison County Board of Education took an important first step toward protecting students in its schools Tuesday afternoon when it unanimously passed the first reading of a new anti-hazing policy.
The new policy is designed to prohibit hazing and abusive initiation activities by students in the county's schools. It's also aimed at employees of the Harrison County Board of Education who knowingly participate in hazing or allow it to continue. Employees could be found guilty of "insubordination" and "cruelty" under state law and would be subject to possible termination and prosecution.
In addition, school personnel who become aware of hazing activities would be required to immediately report the incident to a school principal or the county superintendent, and consent is no defense to hazing under the plan, either implied or expressed.
If it sounds like the school board is taking a tough stand on this dangerous tradition, it is. The safety of students in schools should be of paramount importance to all of us. In fact, the state has now mandated that all county school boards have an anti-hazing policy in place.
The county's proposed policy is open for a 30-day public comment period, and could be revised before being adopted.
At present, the policy is defined as a "means to cause any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of another person or persons or causes another person to destroy or remove public or private property for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, any organization operating under the sanction of or recognized as an organization by a school operated by a county board of education."
The primary intent of this plan is to spell out in detail what will not be tolerated in school environments. We think all parents and guardians should be able to have some peace of mind when sending children off to school and be relatively certain that their safety is of utmost concern to the school board.
This policy is a means to that end and should be adopted by the Harrison County Board of Education.