5:22 PM EDT, March 18, 2010
As we await the results of that investigation, experts in health and physical education have descended on the Indianapolis for an annual conference. FOX 59 reporter Kent Erdahl spoke to a high school coach and college professor who presided over a session about sexual violence among teens. Though he says allegations like those in Carmel don't surface frequently, he says hazing is going on much more than we often realize.
"No professional wants to say that they expect really bad things to happen," said Karl Larson, an associate professor with Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. Though he doesn't expect bad things to happen, Larson says he's no longer surprised to hear about hazing and assault allegations like those that have sprung up in Carmel.
"My first thing that I would look for is history," Larson said.
When teams are involved, Larson says that history often starts with something small.
"With each generation of hazing that occurs, the newer group tends to want to make it one step more significant than what they had to go through," Larson said. "And if that's the case eventually it's going to get to a point where someone crosses a major line."
Larson says the kind of continuing education available at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance National Convention underway in Indianapolis is key to preventing hazing from taking hold. Still, he says all coaches need to take action well before any problems begin to surface.
"I think if you wait until something negative happens on your team and gets publicity then it's been around a lot longer than you want to acknowledge," he said.
Before something negative happens, Larson says each of the adults involved must create an open dialogue with players.
"If those standards are not clearly communicated between parents, students, athletes, administrators, then there's always the risk that something goes wrong," Larson said.
Though it's apparent something has gone wrong in Carmel, Karl says he's pleased that the school and coaches have already begun taking action by suspending the players allegedly involved. Despite the action, he says every member of every team has to look at what they are doing to create a new history of respect.
"By not stepping in, by not stepping up, and by not voicing that, 'Hey this is inappropriate.' You become complicit in the activity," Larson said. "You're willing to let it happen for either your own entertainment or your own fear... Whatever the circumstance might be."
In addition to the optional conferences like the one underway in Indianapolis, some states, including New York, have actually begun requiring educators and coaches to undergo violence prevention training before they are allowed to begin work.