Q:

How do you calm a child's jitters about starting high school? My son is very worried about hazing that he may have to endure as part of initiation to the tennis team. Should I talk to the school about this? -- Uncertain

A:

According to research done at Alfred University, in New York, about 1.5 million high-school students are hazed each year with about half of them being athletes. Unfortunately, most parents are not aware of the amount of hazing that is occurring at this level, and neither are many administrators.

Some parents, administrators and coaches do not consider hazing as dangerous, as they recall being hazed as a rite of passage. However, there is a tendency for the level of hazing to increase at a school. The ones who haze have themselves been hazed, and they tend to accelerate the hazing of new students or athletic team members. In many schools, hazing involves very humiliating and inappropriate behavior.

Although hazing can be harmful, few high schools have an anti-hazing policy. An increasing number of states do have anti-hazing laws. You can find out about your state by visiting www.nfhs.org (the National Federation of State High School Associations) and searching for "hazing laws." Because of the dangers of hazing, you should contact the administration of your son's high school and relate what is happening and ask that all hazing be eliminated. Your visit with the administrators will be more effective if like-minded parents accompany you.