Locker Room Hazing Expert Article

School locker rooms are a known area of vulnerability for incidents involving hazing, bullying, harassment, or abuse between students. While schools are ultimately responsible for providing a safe environment for students, they face the challenge of striking an appropriate balance between student privacy and supervision. In this article, Gregory Kiehl discusses the forensic investigation of these incidents and some of the discovery items that counsel involved in these matters should consider.

Locker Room Hazing Expert Witness

Hazing in School Locker Rooms

Conversations involving adult supervision in school locker rooms can be uncomfortable, but proper supervision is critical in the prevention of dangerous activities. The standard of care within the industry is to take programmatic action to prevent dangerous behavior before it occurs.

Within the context of a forensic investigation, evidence of a comprehensive, programmatic approach can be substantiated within documents and actions such as policies and procedures, training, incident reports, and/or remedial actions. The investigation of an incident should review and consider a broad range of data and preventive measures that may be relevant to establishing a culture and environment of safety in locker rooms.

School District Policies and Procedures

In most situations, the responsibility for creating a safe and secure locker room falls on the coaching staff and the school’s athletic department, with guidance from the district school board policies, procedures, and school site administration. Clear communication of the school board policies including student code of conduct and team rules to stakeholders including parents, athletes, coaches, and other athletic department personnel is key to ensuring their implementation.

District policies vary from state to state but protocols should specifically deal with coaches and supervision of athletes in locker rooms and team changing room areas.

Team Specific Policies and Procedures

Developing preventive measures to thwart hazing in locker rooms requires supervision that considers the environment and activities in which the students are engaged. Clear and concise policies and procedures regarding locker room supervision and the expectations of students through Codes of Conduct should be established for each sport/activity to address their unique circumstances.

Training Documentation for Coaches and Staff

All coaches, including on site, volunteer, and walk on coaches, as well as other supervisors must have the required clearances as dictated by the district and then be trained and oriented to the specific expectations and procedures established by the school. Guidance on reasonable methods and proactive measures to properly supervise a locker room should be addressed in this training.

Proper supervision of student-athletes requires that the person or persons given this duty are competent to manage the team members (quality of supervision) and, that there is an appropriate number of supervisors to fulfill this duty of care (quantity of supervision). Supervisors therefore must be able to recognize dangerous behaviors before they start and prevent them from happening.

Supervisory training may include talking with student-athletes, listening to and observing students / student behavior, and addressing misconduct in the locker room. Additionally, utilizing and rotating all coaches and having them supervise in unpredictable patterns, and banning recording devices such as cell phones and cameras, demonstrates a commitment to positive and safe locker room behavior. Constant and consistent communication among staff and the athletic department is helpful to always ensure full coverage and proper supervision in the locker rooms. Staff training should also include how to properly report an incident to the school administration and externally, when required.

Locker Room Incident Reporting and Interceding

Policies and procedures should establish reporting protocols to follow for any locker room incidents. If prior incidents have occurred, incident reports and follow-up actions should be available.

School districts and coaches have a duty to protect the safety of student-athletes in the locker room. This includes establishing appropriate policies and procedures and providing supervision to prevent or stop dangerous/harmful behaviors. A school district’s implementation of safety policies and procedures should establish a culture of safety with systemic safeguards to protect students from harm.

Bullying & Hazing Expert Witness Investigations

Among the supervision experts at Robson Forensic are former teachers, school administrators, athletic directors, and child/adult day care program coordinators. They have hands on experience working in organized public and private care settings, designing and implementing safety policies, establishing processes and procedures to screen, hire, and train staff, and reporting/investigating incidents.

For more information, submit an inquiry or call us at 800.813.6736.

Featured Expert

Gregory Kiehl, School Administration Expert

Gregory Kiehl, M.Ed.

School Administration Expert
Gregory Kiehl is a supervision and education expert with a diverse background in elementary and secondary education. He has over 20 years of experience as a public school administrator,… read more.

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