Austin police are investigating a report of hazing involving Anderson High School students. According to the campus principal, the victims are incoming freshman who were paddled by older students.
The principal has warned students that if they participate in hazing, they will be removed from their extracurricular activities for a year. Hazing is against state law, so it's possible now with police involved, students also face criminal charges.
According to police, the hazing took place off campus.
Police are classifying the case as injury to a child. But that's about all they will say about the case.
School Principal Donna Houser sent this letter home to parents Tuesday. It gives more details.
She says several anonymous tips have come in pointing to athletes and non-athletes who are doing the paddling as a way of freshman initiation. She calls the behavior unacceptable, harmful and potentially illegal. She says she's had indications that paddling has gone on in years past, but no one would identify who was behind it, until now apparently.
FOX 7 talked to several parents about the incident.
"I actually was disturbed by it. I wasn't aware that this was going on. I asked my daughter if she knew about this. She said no, but some groups do have some practices," said Laurie Domino, a Anderson High School parent.
"If it was a person striking another person with a weapon, that sounds like someone has broken the law and police need to be involved," another parent said.
AISD Medical Director addressed students saying, "In the most extreme cases we've seen folks have actually died from hazing. So, that can happen. That's frightening to any parent. But short of that we're looking at long term emotional consequences, physical damage. So it's critical that we provide a safe environment for our kids to learn and to thrive."
As for parents, Dr. Pont says the best way to talk to kids about this is start by asking, is bullying or hazing going on at your school? Then ask about friends and then direct your questioning to your child's experiences. Work your way from the outside in.
Principal Houser encouraged students to report hazing if they see it.