hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

School News

December 7, 2011

Anti-hazing policies reinforced

Andover scandal draws Haverhill coaches' attention

Haverhill High School already has procedures in place aimed at preventing sports team hazing and has no plans to alter them in the wake of the hazing scandal that has rocked Andover High.

Athletic Director Tom O'Brien said the school followed its normal procedures prior to the start of the winter sports season.

"We already do all we can to educate the students," said O'Brien. "We let them know that it won't be tolerated."

During the preseason for each sport, O'Brien hosts a mandatory meeting with parents and students to reinforce the school's no-nonsense anti-hazing policy.

"If there is ever a doubt about an incident, we would consider it hazing," he said.

Coaches also review the policy in separate meetings with their teams.

Haverhill football coach Tim O'Connor teams up each upperclassman with an underclassman at the beginning of the year to establish a positive relationship and friendship between older and younger players. He also makes sure that he or a member of his coaching staff checks in with freshmen each week to see how they are doing both on and off the field.

"We make sure that it is a family atmosphere," said O'Connor. "We will bicker, but we don't hurt each other."

Superintendent James Scully said that from "time to time," Haverhill Public Schools receives allegations of hazing. All incidents are investigated by school personnel in cooperation with Haverhill police.

Hazing has been in the headlines locally and nationally after an incident involving Andover High basketball players at the Hoop Mountain basketball camp at Stonehill College in July. Two students were reportedly forced or coaxed into taking part in sexual misconduct. After an investigation, Andover High plans to expel two students and has dismissed five additional players from the basketball team.

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