LEHIGHTON, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Did you know there’s a difference between hazing and bullying? Carbon County District Attorney Michael Greek says bullying usually involves only one person, the victim.
“Hazing is an institutionalized one where you either need to stay in an organization or gain acceptance in an organization which would be a sports team or a club,” Greek said.
Following a hazing incident investigation at Lehighton Area Middle School, an anti-hazing presentation was held on Monday. Greek says the amount of hazing incidents he’s seen are increasing.
“Our juvenile office is very busy with referrals that come in,” Greek said.
Dennis Goodwin, the co-founder of the Anti-Hazing Collaborative, says the number of known incidents has increased because of cellphones.
“That cell phone, everyone has a camera in their pocket. And so now if you don’t think it was told, someone’s video-ing, videotaping it, and it’s starting to bloom,” Goodwin said.
“Our children act a lot more older now than they did before,” Greek said.
Hazing is also now illegal in the state of Pennyslvania. In the one hour long presentation, goodwin, along with other county officials, emphasize a further needed change in our culture.
“The key here is to have the bystander speak up. So if you see something you say something. Most kids will never speak up because they’re afraid they’re the next victim or they don’t know what to do,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin says the power of a bystander is underestimated.
“Statistically says if a bystander speaks up those people…The incident stops and that’s really powerful,” Goodwin.
That’s why the program is called ‘Making of Heroes.’
“That’s the goal here. The whole program try to have that hero become the kids who promote it and speak up and prevent hazing. Not the kid who has the most basketball baskets, rebounds etc,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin started the anti-hazing program five years ago and hopes there is less need for programs like it in the future.
“My goal is to be out of business tomorrow. But that probably won’t happen,” Goodwin said.