Nfld. & Labrador

Hazing still considered initiation, students say it's 'not right at all'

Parents with children attending a St. John's high school received a notice from the school informing them of possible hazing incidents, including paddling.

Any hazing incidents —​ including paddling —​ won't be tolerated, will be reported to RNC: school

Hazing in St. John's

6 years ago
Parents were sent a notice after Bishop's College administration found out about incidents of hazing 2:39

A St. John's high school sent a warning home to parents this week after possible hazing incidents involving some of its students.

Bishop's College says staff were informed that some students may have been taking part in hazing activities with Grade 9 students from Beaconsfield Junior High.

In the message, the school said "any act of hazing, such as paddling, is abuse and criminal activity" and would not be tolerated.

As soon as you leave Grade 9 it's just, it's considered normal — and it shouldn't be.- Grade 8 student Emma Calver

The schools involved were quick to talk to students about the issue and wanted to make it clear hazing isn't acceptable.

"Mainly they told us that in that situation we have the right to defend ourselves and not to like, encourage it and that it is a crime," said Emma Calver, a Grad 8 student at Beaconsfield.

"It's considered sort of an initiation. Like, that's not right at all, but as soon as you leave Grade 9 it's just, it's considered normal — and it shouldn't be."
Grade 8 student Emma Calver says hazing still seems to be a normal initiation practice among some students, but it shouldn't be. (CBC)

The school said there would be consequences for anyone found to be taking part in acts of hazing — even bystanders can expect consequences. 

Taylor Alexander, another Grade 8 student at Beaconsfield, said she's familiar with the issue and wouldn't let it happen to her.

"I would probably try and get away from that situation or just, they've taught us to say no and just walk away from it and I'd probably do that and contact a parent or someone who's a part of that school who I can talk to about it," she said.

'This is assault'

Meanwhile, Bridget Ricketts, principal at Bishop's College, said she thinks the key to putting a stop to hazing is to educate students and make them aware of how serious the issue is.

We are building a new culture at Waterford Valley and this culture does not need to include any form of hazing.- Principal Bridget Ricketts

"A lot of students, when you talk to them, they seem to think that it's all in good fun, and when they realize that there are people that are scared, and there are people that are afraid and this is assault — it is criminal assault and abuse — and when it is put into those terms, I think that students understand that this is wrong and that this is something that needs to stop," she said.

In the statement sent home to parents, the school said information about hazing would be reported to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and students could be faced with loss of privileges, lengthy suspensions and possible assault charges.

The school is encouraging any victims of hazing to contact police, as well as asking anyone with information to contact the school office.

Students from Bishop's College will be moving to the new Waterford Valley High School in the west end of St. John's in the fall, and Ricketts said this is a "golden opportunity" to weed out hazing before students transition to the new school.

"It's a new school and we are building a new culture at Waterford Valley and this culture does not need to include any form of hazing," said Ricketts.

"This is a really good opportunity, I think, for our students to end this."