Nebraska legislator seeks to broaden state’s anti-hazing law

February 5, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationWrestling
A Nebraska legislator this week introduced a bill that would broaden the definition of hazing to include acts that are sexual in nature.

A hazing incident within a Nebraska high school wrestling team could result in changes to the state's anti-hazing law. | Photo: Kevin Hoffman
A hazing incident within a Nebraska high school wrestling program could result in changes to the state’s anti-hazing law. | Photo: Kevin Hoffman

The bill was introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes, and it may have been prompted by a hazing incident that involved the wrestling team at Cambridge High School. According to the Journal Star, members of the team placed doughnuts on their genitals and forced younger boys to eat the doughnuts while teammates watched.

Nebraska’s anti-hazing law includes “whipping, branding, forced and prolonged calisthenics, prolonged exposure to elements, forced consumption of food, drinks, drugs or harmful substances, sleep deprivation or brutal treatment,” according to the article. Hughes said prosecutors didn’t feel they could charge those responsible under the current law, and that’s why he is seeking to change it.

From the Journal Star:

Hughes said similar incidents have occurred both in the state and around the country. It seems hazing incidents are growing in number, he said, although that’s hard to document, because young people don’t like to testify against, or “rat out,” their friends.  

With the bill, activities would broaden to include sexual penetration, exposing one’s genitals in order to intimidate or alarm another person, or lewd fondling or caressing of another person. 

Hughes said his intent is to protect kids rather than to punish them. 

Nebraska joins a growing list of states trying to change the landscape of high school sports through its legislature. Politicians in Florida, Maryland, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Tennessee have proposed bills addressing everything from open records to transgender athletes.

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