Malibu High hazing letter goes viral

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A letter sent out each year by Malibu High School administrators to parents warning of potential hazing of freshmen sparked concerns when it was picked up by local and regional media, but administrators say the letter was only a precaution.

By Knowles Adkisson / Associate Editor

Malibu High School administrators last Friday sent a letter to parents warning of a potential hazing ritual targeting incoming eighth-graders.

The letter gathered major attention when it was picked up by local and regional media outlets.

But MHS Principal Kelly said the letter was a precautionary measure he has sent out the past several years, and that he did not have specific information about actual hazing.

“I’ve been sending this out the last four or five, maybe six years,” Kelly told The Malibu Times Tuesday. “It never garnered this kind of attention.”

The letter warns of incoming eighth-grade girls being subjected to harassment, and humiliation of eighth-grade students by 11th-grade students through a process called “initiation.” Some specific examples of potential harassment listed in the letter included girls being covered in cat food or other sticky substances while wearing bathing suits and then rolled in sand. Inappropriate or lewd sexual conduct was also listed as a potential activity.

Eighth-grade boys face physical abuse such as fighting and being struck by paddles. Post-initiation parties hosted by 11th-graders where alcohol was present was also listed as a potential concern.

Kelly said those specific activities were listed because in the past, the term “initiation” has been associated with such activities in school settings in Malibu and elsewhere.

Students in past years have reported rumors of such activity to MHS staff members, Kelly said, although not to him.

“If we hear anything like this, I’ve always found that parents, even if it’s not anything substantive, they would rather know rather than not know,” Kelly said. “I really felt like I was being proactive. I think it’s unfortunate the direction it’s taken.”

The letter urges parents to be aware of where their children are at all times between now and the end of the year, particularly their whereabouts after school and during the evenings. It also urges parents to call their children to check on their whereabouts and work together with other parents for the same purpose.

“I care about these kids and I want them to be safe,” Kelly said. “If I have something, I just want the parents to know. They’ve always said, ‘Thank you for doing this.’”

A resource officer was sent to the school last Monday as a precautionary measure after the letter was posted on the Internet.