MALIBU (CBS) — Parents of 8th and 11th graders at Malibu High School have been sent a letter warning them about the dangers of a pending student “initiation.”
The letter, signed by Dr. Mark Kelly, Wendy Wax Gellis and Phil Wenker — the principal and assistant principals, respectively — explained that the initiation ritual was planned for this or next weekend in an unknown location.
The three administrators reminded parents that such hazing activities are illegal “nor do we support this on any level. Such an event is dangerous.”
Past initiation events, outline the letter, have taken place on local beaches or at a gated residence. Sometimes at these initiation events, the school warns, underage drinking is encouraged.
Eleventh graders drive the 8th graders to the location and often subject them to a series of humiliating acts. The letter cites, “Initiation for girls has included such things as wearing bathing suits and being covered with food, cat food, or other sticky substances and then rolled in the sand ending in the ocean or getting hosed off. We have been told that there is lewd, inappropriate sexual conduct.”
Initiation for the boys often is more violent and punishing, according to the letter. “usually in the form of being paddled and physical fighting.”
Finally, the administrators tell parents, “This is a dangerous situation and we need your support in bringing this to a stop.”
They added, “Please be strong and do not give in when your children plead to attend.”
Jeff Nguyen, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, spoke to parents and students for their reaction.
Parent Lisa Machenberg told him the letter “goes out every year. But this year it included 8th graders.”
A student told him, off-camera, that it was not unusual for the initiation events to include sexual behavior like the junior female students giving the senior males “lap dances.”
Former student Spencer Steinberg thought the administration was making much ado about nothing. He called the initiations “rather tame” and said he never knew them to have any sexual activities. “They’re just a rite of passage.”
Mackenberg’s daughter, Rayna Nye, said such activities hold no interest to her. She told Nguyen, “they’re not worth it.”
And even if peer pressure demanded she take part, she says, anyone demanded she go along to get their friendship, “they’re not my friends anymore.”