From Washington Post by Michael Alison Chandler:
The principal of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School said she tried for years to rein in hazing during homecoming week. One day each fall, older students would shower ninth-graders with paint, pelt them with ketchup, yell “Go back to Westland!” — the local middle school — and occasionally rough them up.

Karen Lockard banned spray paint on campus. She brought in an anti-bullying expert for an assembly. She encouraged classroom discussions about values.

None of that stopped this year’s Color Day spirit event from becoming, once again, “freshman beat-down day.” One student went to a hospital after being assaulted, and many wound up plastered in paint. It got so out of hand that Lockard canceled next year’s Color Day. “It’s hard to change tradition,” she said.

The episode last month in Montgomery County underscored that hazing persists in Washington area high schools, despite efforts to stamp it out.

“Whether you call it hazing or rites of passage, I’ve seen unacceptable behavior in high schools,” said Montgomery Superintendent Joshua P. Starr. “Our older kids should be helping our younger students succeed in school, not making them feel afraid.”

In Arlington County, high school principals sent a letter home in September asking parents to help discourage any kind of “Initiation Day, Freshmen Beat Up Day, or Hazing Day.”

“We recognize that times have changed, and some incidents that were not taken as seriously some years ago are now viewed in a very different way,” they wrote, saying that anyone “involved in the bullying, hitting, chasing or hurting of another student faces serious disciplinary action, including suspension.”

Officials said they have made progress. But parents and alumni wonder how hazing survives at all.

Hazing amplifies the embedded high school pecking order. Seniors rule, and freshmen — at least those on television — get slammed into lockers. Each triumph or trial is perceived as a badge of growing up.

Such traditions pose challenges for administrators, because students are often willing or enthusiastic participants. Many B-CC students said they looked forward to Color Day every year.

A national survey of college freshmen in 2008 found that nearly half reported participating in high school activities such as being asked to sing or chant in front of a group, being deprived of sleep, or being yelled at as a new member of a group. But most respondents did not associate the behavior with hazing.

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