UT cheerleaders.JPGSeven members of the Morton Ranch High School cheerleader squad were indicted for hazing. This marks the first time minors have been charged under the 1995 Texas anti-hazing statute.

Their crime? Blindfolding junior cheerleaders and throwing them into a swimming pool.

That’s it:

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Diane De La Cruz, mother of Laura De La Cruz, 15, one of the junior varsity cheerleaders. “We are thankful that the grand jury came up with an indictment because we have known all along that the (varsity) girls were guilty of hazing.”

Diane De La Cruz and her husband had a premonition that high school girls might start acting like high school girls:

[De La Cruz] said her husband had an uneasy feeling when the older cheerleaders arrived about 4 a.m. on July 25 to take the couple’s daughter to the ritual breakfast.

“He said, ‘I hope this is not going to turn into an initiation,’ ” De La Cruz recounted. “We trusted them to just drive our girls to IHOP.”

An initiation? In Texas? By high school students? Who could have possibly seen that coming?

Hazing is serious business … to people with no friends who’ve never been a part of anything:

Chicago psychologist Jean Alberti termed hazing “child abuse by children.” …

“(Youths) think it’s funny, parents think it’s funny. They think it’s normal adolescent development, but this is an aberration. It didn’t happen 30 or 40 years ago. Now we have video on YouTube showing girls kicking other girls in the head.”

No we didn’t have YouTube 30 or 40 years ago, but I’m pretty sure that if we did “girls kicking other girls in the head” would have been “tame” for the times.

But after the jump, the law is on the anti-hazing side.


Of course the indicted teenagers weren’t kicking anybody in the head. All they did was blindfold the newer cheerleaders and throw them into a pool. I did this to my younger sister when she was five. Now, she can swim.

But under the Texas statute (Sec 37.151), the particulars of the actual “crime” don’t really matter:

“Hazing” means any intentional, knowing, or reckless act occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization.

Subsection D really brings the point home:

(

D) any activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism, that subjects the student to extreme mental stress, shame, or humiliation, that adversely affects the mental health or dignity of the student or discourages the student from entering or remaining registered in an educational institution, or that may reasonably be expected to cause a student to leave the organization or the institution rather than submit to acts described in this subdivision;

A Houston Law Review article (that is “pro” anti-hazing legislation) acknowledges the over-broad definition of hazing:

A clear concept is important because actions that are considered hazing by some are not considered hazing and are not objectionable to others. Hazing is defined as “any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.” Athletic hazing can range in scope from relatively harmless initiation rites, such as having rookie team members carry the travel bags of veteran players or sing team songs, to potentially dangerous activities such as kidnapping, binge drinking, sexual harassment, and exploitation.

****

Google tells me that ATL has a growing number of Texas readers. Could one of you please sue your law firm under the anti-hazing statute, just to see what happens?

Because if getting pushed into a swimming pool is humiliating and mentally stressful, try doc review on a Sunday while a partner BlackBerrys you from the Hamptons Corpus Christi asking you to check his interoffice mail.

Morton Ranch cheerleaders indicted in hazing [Houston Chronicle]

Institutional Liability For Hazing in Interscholastic Sports [Houston Law Review]


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