Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Garfield Incident Updates

From the Seattle Times, SPD are talking to six GHS students about the Garfield hazing event.  No arrests have been made and SPD will contact the parents of the students.  In the comments section, there were some more details (wild ones) about this incident.  It is clear that like Rashomon, it depends on who you are, where you were and what you saw.

I have requested the SPD police report on this incident.

President Smith-Blum said this at tonight's Board meeting:

I want to speak about the incident in a public park where there was intentional hazing of students from a high school . Students - bad job, parents - rein it in.

Hurling racial slurs is a truly a community problem and it takes all of us to solve this problem.


Parents, it is not easy job. Sometimes they don't tell you the truth and you think you know what is going on and don't. Stay close to your students and create opportunities to talk. Don't be afraid to parent and if you hear there will be drinking at a party, talk to your student. We know all of us as parents wake up every day to do a good job as a parent and it's a tough job.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting that this story, which was near the top of the Seattle Times online all day, including the news tonight of the suspects being identified, is now very buried on the online ST site.

P & W

Jet City mom said...

It's #3 on the trending with readers list.

Anonymous said...

But you have to really dig to find the story about the 6 suspected kids last updated at 7pm tonight. It was at the top of the page just hours ago, and now it is buried. You have to click on the Today File blog and it is far down that archive, without the late in the day update. And the trending story is only on the trending with readers list, not under local news.

P & W

Jet City mom said...

Seems odd they wouldn't have a link to the updates.
Several of the tv news channels are carrying it.

Anonymous said...

The Roosevelt newspaper is running a survey on hazing at Roosevelt:

http://www.therooseveltnews.org/hazing-garfields-problem-or-ours/

(for students)

Anonymous said...

The Roosevelt newspaper is running a survey on hazing at Roosevelt:

http://www.therooseveltnews.org/hazing-garfields-problem-or-ours/

(for students)

oops, me,

zb

Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, interesting. I spoke with a Roosevelt student yesterday (in leadership) and was told that a few teachers mentioned the incident but that it has not really registered with the rest of the students.

Anonymous said...

Our family had a lively short discussion about this incident. My oldest who's busy with SAT prep made interesting comments about the incident and the conversations surrounding this well publicized event. He said the principal did the right thing. The disconnect between some students who posted here and the adults were more telling.

He said you know there are going to be several reactions. Those who want to circle the wagon from the pointing fingers of this being a purely a Garfield incident. Those who've gone through and see it as the equivalence of Greek style rushing and other students who didn't know exactly what hit them.

The zero tolerance is used to say there are no ands, ifs, or buts. But he said most teens know they exist in plenty. He talked of my profession and its tradition of eating their young. The MS neighbor who is in constant stress with stack ranking. His full of zeal cousin who just starting teaching 2 years ago and is going through the misery of being a newbie in a very entrenched system.

He recounted the TPing and egging incidents of my youth and my siblings and how they got a historic remake as stupid, but amusing teen pranks. There wasn't the you tube, bullying moment then. He talked about the glee of legalized pot among the many adults we know. The alcohol fuel auction and various fundraising parties. The nonchalant acceptance of the Ballard pot dealer bust.

He understand the adults' concerns and most are speaking from good places. In his mind though the verbal lashing and righteousness will drive teens to look at adult hypocrisy with the same hyper vigilance as adults do with kids. He said that kids are under so much more scrutiny and pressure. When kids speak about their concerns of college prospect, that's truth. It's truth because it matters to the adults in their lives, in some cases more than the kids themselves.

He was angry and all over the place about this. At the time, I wanted to just hug him and tell him I love him.

another reader

Anonymous said...

Sorry for bad typos and grammar in the post above. But here's a funny read on teenagers and survey.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/01/two-cheers-for-hypocrisy/304508/2/

another reader

Anonymous said...

Linda Thomas at KIRO radio has an interview with a former Garfield "froshed" kid on mynorthwest.com. It's an interesting perspective on why he went along and how he feels now, a few years later. She also says that *8* perpetrators have been ID'd, not just 6.

My own HS kid is out of town but when they get back tonight I'm going to ask for their perspectives on this.

Sad Mom

Anonymous said...

A.P.'s story really strikes a chord.

What would the world look like to a young person today? A screwed up country and planet. A greed-driven economy that's destroying good jobs left and right. Skyrocketing housing, cost of living and higher education costs. A completely dysfunctional government with an abysmal record of problem solving or serving the ever-shrinking middle class, which used to be 70% of the population. What role models we've been. What examples we've set.

And we're freaking out that our kids may not have enough education to solve all these problems we've created. Sure, many of us try our best to get involved and make a difference, but does it feel like we're winning the good fights? I don't see how it could, when we're spending the majority of our time fighting for things we shouldn't have to fight for.

If I were a kid today, my first question would be: Why in the hell would I listen to, or take advice from adults? On the whole, your track record sucks! Seriously.

That so many of our youth can find peace of mind, some happiness, make good friends and possess the fortitude to press on toward the future in the face of ever-increasing odds stacked against them is a reason to rejoice.

Yes, they're just kids, but they're a hell of a lot smarter than we were at that age (credit to them, not us), and staring into an abyss that many of us were able to look away from and skip on by, leaving the mess for the generations behind us to deal with.

A.P.'s son can see the problem from 6 different angles and winds up frustrated and angry at the stupidity and sanctimony of all involved (as I interpret it). That's what happens in an environment where everyone's a critic, but nobody has any realistic or good answers. But rules! Oh yes, we've got rules for everything! We don't understand why we have many of them, but damn if we won't throw the book at anyone who violates them! How about good decisions in the absence of rules, or when people simply ignore them. What then?

Meanwhile the pot, the booze, the graphic sexuality & porn are everywhere. The beer commercials where everyone is portrayed as a mindless idiot, the Kardashians and on and on and on. Who looks like their winning? I probably had half the brain of AP's kid at that age, and I was equally frustrated, perplexed and pissed off at the hypocrisy and ridiculousness of it all. Imagine it today. Of course, I got treated to Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" ("Just bury your head in the sand," more like it) campaign all through HS, about which a comedian - Jay Leno, I believe, once asked: Why is it that every time I hear Nancy Reagan say, "Just Say No to Drugs," it makes me want to shoot up and die in the street?

We're handing off a broken, sick country and society to our kids. It scares us, and it should. We should be honest and admit that much of our parenting is driven by fear, and that fear causes us to become irrational at times and grasp at straws when we can't find good answers. Nobody wants their kid to be harmed, and with time going faster and faster as we age, it doesn't seem that long ago we were feeding these same kids with bottles and putting them down for naps. Long after we cut the chord, we still worry. It's a part of parenting that doesn't let of us easily.

I feel best when the kids talk back to us, and that's why I was upset at people arguing with and lecturing the kids on this blog, without listening to and absorbing their words. They may be young, idealistic, naive, or ridiculous at times, but the worst of our fears are sure to be realized if they clam-up and turn away from us for good.

It's great that A.P.'s son cares enough to sort through the crap and winds up frustrated from all the white noise surrounding it. That shows he gets it. Imagine if he instead just said, "who cares?"

to be cont'd

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

This thread is supposed to be all about hazing and froshing, and while I've read comment after comment declaring how awful it is, I've yet to read an insightful comment as to why the kids still want to do it so badly, and want to be part of it so badly - except from the kids themselves. Are we listening?

And "they don't really know or understand, because they're just kids, and we have all the answers" doesn't cut it. Such responses are not only patronizing, but utterly thoughtless. Maybe its denial, or maybe its our own views colored by our own experiences. I can't begin to know. But I do know this: Scolding kids and telling them they are just plain wrong, will be as effective as Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign.

How many of us can honestly say we have the teenage years and experiences all figured out simply because we survived it? Are we experts because we lived through it? How many would say they "aced" their teens?

I'd bet one in a thousand, and that person would be lying.

Sorry if I exploited your story, A.P., but it really resonated with me.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I get what you're saying, WSDWG, but looking at the teens around me, I see some who can and do make good decisions, and others who do not, for any number of reasons. Some respect the adults (or some of them) around them who offer advice, others toss any and all of it off with claims like we saw on this blog-"What do you guys REALLY know?" And some of the adults I know are doing some pretty great things. It's not an either-or.

I've seen kids circle wagons AROUND those who don't fit in and include them, rather than torture them to make them worthy. I've seen kids talk others OUT of smoking pot or drinking, rather than go with them to the party.

I think there's a culture at some schools and among some groups that seems to cultivate hazing or froshing, or other daring, dangerous behavior. There's the "in kids" and the rest, and since there are studies showing teens can value peers more than even their own families, of course the insecure ones will be desperate to do whatever it takes to be included.

That's not the culture at my kid's school. It's helps that it's very small, but it's also very inclusive. But it's not only school. My kid is active in church, and the youth are taught from a young age to support one another and help them make good choices instead of making bad ones or exclude others. I think it matters a great deal since most of them having not been involved in drinking, partying, etc.

As far as not listening to adults because we've made bad decisions-teens were saying the same thing in the 60's, 70's and 80's. I believe even Aristotle wrote about teens not trusting or listening to their parents. Age-old issue.

Sad Mom

Cho said...

It doesn't matter what traditions, stresses, mixed messages, hypocrisy, pressures, etc. the teens are facing. We as parents and a community should not accept excuses, blaming, and failure to take responsibility for bad choices.

The fact is, you put 100 or so teens, alcohol and cars together in a park at night--bad things are going to happen. You can bet that other substances are readily available. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but teen gatherings in parks like this are a regular occurrence. We only hear about them when it involves hazing, a shooting, rape, violence...

Too many adults see this as not serious, all in good fun, kids will be kids, tradition, blah, blah.

Do we need a reminder that criminal activity was involved--assault, minors in possession, consuming alcohol in a public space, most likely driving under the influence. Why is it we can be so complacent and easily swayed by the why?

Eric B said...

WSDWG, this one's for you. http://www.despair.com/mercy.html Like most of the Despair demotivators, it would be funnier if it weren't so true. :)

Anonymous said...

Why is it we can be so complacent and easily swayed by the why?

@Cho: I am floored by your question.

We will not stop the behavior without addressing the cause. We'll instead play whack-a-mole as the problem morphs and meanders.

Why do you think so many people are shocked and caught off guard that little Johnny got drunk and spanked, or got spanked, last friday? I'm sure dozens believed "my Johnny would never do that" - until Friday night. Time to deal with why.

What happened last Friday is intolerable and hazing is inexcusable. There's almost universal agreement on that. But there's a reason it's been going on year after year, despite people knowing it's bad. We need to deal with the underlying, root causes.

If a call for better role models, reciprocal/open communication, honesty, humility, and integrity from parents is considered "excuse-making," and people really think, "do what I say, not what I do" works, I can only respond: "Not very well" given what occurred Friday night.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Ironically, EricB, I'm not so pessimistic about my own kids, or many others in my city. But I don't think we have to look far to see adults in positions of power doing really, really bad stuff, and even worse, getting away with it. See Wall Street, the U.S. Congress, Nike, Apple - the list goes on and on.

My main point is that anyone who doesn't see and own the occasional hypocrite in the mirror is fooling themselves. That's not an excuse; it's a call to action.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

"but there's a reason it's been going on year after year, despite people knowing it's bad. We need to deal with the underlying, root causes. "

Well, I agree with you there, WSDWG. Luckily since at least some of these kids are part of a cohort that's been together for most their schooling experience, and know each other well, that might be possible. What was it like at Lowell/Thurgood Marshall and Washington/Hamilton? Were there similar problems with kids and accountability?

Sad Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Why in the hell would I listen to, or take advice from adults? On the whole, your track record sucks! Seriously."

And such as been the case with teenagers since the beginning of time.

"..ever-increasing odds stacked against them.."

Why is this a harder time than any other time in our country to be a teen? It is in some ways and in others is not.

I'm sorry if teens - at any school - don't understand (or choose not) why hazing isn't allowed. Sometimes adults make rules to PROTECT children and teens.

I find it interesting that the kids say this is "community-building" because there were probably only 60-75 freshman there (if you figure there were 25-30 seniors). That certainly is NOT the entire class of freshman.

So how come some showed up - a minority - and not the rest? What community is being talked about and maybe we should be talking about better, safer ways to build inclusion and community.

As I say, I read every comment. I heard what the Garfield students said. I've raised two boys. I just finished up two hours at a high school listening to teens talk about their lives in order to help them write college essays.

I listen but I also know what my role is as an adult.

Lynn said...

Sad Mom,

Nice way to assume the blame falls on APP students. There are three times as many non-APP students at Garfield who came from Washington and attended elementary schools in the central region. They are a cohort too. Were there problems with those kids and accountability?

I don't know who was responsible - maybe every kid at the Arboretum was an APP student - maybe none of them were. Let's not place blame until we have facts to work with.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, you misunderstand. I was responding to WSDWG's post about kids today being disaffected, not trusting adults, etc. The APP kids have been together in a much more contained way than area kids coming from a wider group of elementary schools and possibly middle schools, and for longer.

I was thinking more along the lines of-here are these kids who have a similar schooling experience from an early age (mostly, I know some join APP later)-let's see what they think since they're mostly at Garfield now. That's all I wasn't even referring to the hazing incident. Though I would be interested in their input on that as well.

Sad Mom

Lynn said...

Sad Mom,

Sorry I misunderstood - and thanks for not overreacting in the way I did.

mirmac1 said...

WSDWG

The why. That IS a critical question. If we start teaching minors that they can blame their actions on society, on the effed up world, on peer pressure (all valid reasons when I was that age), we condemn them to a life as victims.

I grew up during the assassinations, the race riots, Kent State etc. Others grew up during the S&L crisis, "mistakes were made" phase of our country. Even now we live in a date rape, greedy, racist and sexist culture. There will be no end to reasons Why.

The issue is personal responsibility and the parents' duty to teach their children.

I will listen to the students' perspective, and I take it with a big grain of salt. I won't take it upon myself to do their parents job. But I sure as hell won't encourage illegal and/or dangerous behavior, and will report it. And I will never tolerate anything that resembles bullying. And that includes hazing in my mind.

I appreciate your right to have your view, and thank you for posting on these threads. It IS important to learn: when do we let go and let them fly on their own. That will be a hard lesson for me.

Lisa said...

WSDWG, I wonder why other area high schools don't seem to have this problem? That angle is what has me convinced that school is the place to start solving it.

I posted in the previous thread that hazing is either nonexistent at Ballard or minimal/benign enough to not be known to my very involved senior. I know kids at Ballard drink and smoke pot; some get up to worse behaviors, and my "good" kid is not exempt -- the difference is it is not a widespread bullying issue.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be so sure about that Lori. I wish I can be so confident. When parents start to play the not at my school or my child, they may very well be setting themselves up.

If Ballard is indeed doing that much better in its anti-bullying effort, then it also has the heart and civility as a school to be kinder when other stumbles.

disappointed reader

Anonymous said...

Response to Lisa's post , not Lori's.

Disappointed reader

Anonymous said...

Melissa-
There were not 65-70 freshmen there and not 3-=35 seniors. There were maybe around 25 of each grade, it was very evenly distributed. Kids weren't gathering just to frosh, although that did happen and it did get out of hand. It was a celebration for homecoming, and a lot of the people there were not involved in illegal activity of any kind, and people who were there who did not see hazing occur.
If the adults are trying to protect us and do whats best for us, why did Mr. Howard know about the gathering hours beforehand but not show up till almost 2 hours after it had started? That way he could catch and penalize as many people as possible. If he really had the students best interests at heart, he would have gone at the beginning and nipped it in the bud.
Yes, adults think that they have been there and they know all of what we should do. Sometimes, it seems that adults have forgotten what its like to be a teen, and won't see our perspective. We have to be able to make our own mistakes and learn from them. Yes, we need guidance and restraint to keep things from becoming dangerous like friday. But we also need to be able to make choices. Thats how life works and thats how we learn and grow up.

-ghs kid who was there

Anonymous said...

Melissa says only "a minority" showed up and wonders why.

Lori calls it a "widespread bullying issue."

?

And Sad Mom curiously asks:
What was it like at Lowell/Thurgood Marshall and Washington/Hamilton?Were there similar problems with kids and accountability?

After having earlier written, essentially, "my kid would never..."

And Mirmac1 writes: I will listen to the students' perspective, and I take it with a big grain of salt.

1. Garfield had very firm rules in place.
2. The rules were well known to all students, parents, and faculty, published on the front page of the school's website and detailed in the Student Handbook.
3. The punishments for breaking those rules are severe, including criminal charges and reporting on college applications.
4. Everyone understood rules 1-3.
5. Despite 1-4, students broke the rules anyways.
6. At least 4 moms on this blog believe "why" they did so is irrelevant and should be taken with grain of salt
7. The kids who go to Garfield are not much different than kids who go to any other Seattle High School. 8. Precisely because most choose to believe they and their kids are special and different from the parents and kids at issue here, hazing is certain to continue at many schools in the district.
9. People will inexplicably misconstrue warnings and cautions that "its not that simple" as defending/rationalizing/supporting or tolerating hazing.
10. As much as many want it to be, hazing is not an APP problem.

WSDWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mr Howard showed up at the wrong time. And coming earlier would have warded off everyone else? Hmmm.

Each student, frosher or froshee DID make his or her own choice (as I am told there was zero persuasion used to get anyone to show up) to do something that has been banned by Garfield. You were caught and,by your own admission, will learn and grow up.

I note no one addressed my point of exactly how this builds "community" nor why, if it does, why so few kids participated.

Anonymous said...

WSDWG, I explained to Lynn what I was referencing, and NOT targeting APP kids as those involved. I don't know who they were, do you?

As for my kid, what I said was that at her small school, the kids work hard NOT to have "ins" and "outs". I have personally heard one of them-not only or specifically MY kid, ask others to include a less popular student in activities. I've seen kids stand up to someone making negative comments about another student. Things like that. Are they perfect? Of course not, but I don't see a culture where kids would be ok with being hit, forced to drink, etc. just to be accepted. They seem accepting without any of that.

THAT is what I said. My student keeps very active in pursuits that require me to drive her everywhere. For now, we know where that is, and for now, we can safely say that it hasn't including freshmen drinking until puking, paddling or diapers. That's not quite the same as "My kid would NEVER." But I'd like to think that's not a path this group won't.

Excellent response, Melissa, to the student, by the way.

Sad Mom

Lisa said...

Can I be clear, there are many problems to solve at Ballard; it is far from a haven of perfect behavior and civility. Just not this particular problem -- which also doesn't seem to be happening at other local high schools. Although hazing is common enough in our culture, it seems to have been stamped out as a "tradition" in Seattle high schools.

Or am I wrong? Anyone know of hazing -- not just alcohol-fueled general bad behavior -- at other area schools?

Anonymous said...

My friend's child was hazed at Roosevelt last year, and had bruises for weeks. She was livid. He took it as his due, eager to be in with the popular guys (all athletes).

Thus far, our freshman at Ingraham has seen no evidence of hazing at that school, but he is on a team, so maybe he's out of the loop.

Hazing is social control. It is similar to self-perpetuating racism, sexism, or homophobia -- in which those who have endured humiliation deal with the cognitive dissonance by minimizing it, quashing any natural empathy, and enjoying their turn at dishing it out.

As a youth, I experienced its analog in a fundamentalist religion with women who, having submitted body and soul to men, insisted their daughters and other women do the same, or be cast out of the community.

Apparently at GHS, there aren't enough high-status individuals opposed to hazing to stop the cycle. If I were staff, I would enroll every team in an empathy course.

Seattle mom

Anonymous said...

"he is NOT on a team" -- sorry for the typo.

Seattle mom

Anonymous said...


We are talking about bullying, the climate which allows it, and how can we eliminate it. Is this best done by keeping scores on who makes the best debate point in an argument? With a teenager? Which school is worse or better? Is this the best way to engage teens? As adults, we have tremendous power and come from a place of higher standing in society. We have more years, maturity, and experience. If adults want to open a dialogue with recalcitrant teens to try to change behavior, scoring points in an argument and publicly dissing the entire school (student body) on a blog, are not in my mind effective. It probably doesn't work well among adults. It merely fuel a battle which distracts rather than help solve a problem.

Go to an anti- bullying class or website, you will see what we are doing right now mirrors some of the climate that bring about bullying. A declaration where one school has a bullying problem while the rest do not. It's fingerpointing. Why not have a discussion with positive input? Bring forth best practices and engagement that works. Civility doesn't mean politeness. It means the ability to make your point respectfully and effectively without belittling others.

I thank Ted Howard for his no nonsense action. Action which did not stop there. He remains engage with his students and takes the lead in going forward, in changing behaviors and attitudes to make things better. That's what responsible adults do.

disappointed reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Disapointed, NO ONE has disrespected Garfield. No one has said any student is bad. A small percentage of students made a bad choice and got caught.

NO ONE has said this is not an issue at other schools. I know it happens at Roosevelt and other schools. I do know that both Roosevelt and Ballard have really cracked down but the answer to this really is with the students, not the adults.

From a letter to the editor in the Times:
"Before my son had the opportunity to attend Garfield HS, I met with Principal Ted Howard to discuss my concerns about froshing (hazing).

This occurs twice a year by the generally popular upperclass toward the freshman class. To not be froshed is a humiliation. There is no way froshing is going to end at Garfield as long as parents condone it.

For some parents of freshman boys, we knew darn well they were going to be froshed. And eager to have our children fit and be happy (that was my excuse anyway) we allowed it. Today I told my student, no more.

Parents, you with me?
Ellen Chestnut"

Good for Ms. Chestnut.

Anonymous said...

Respectfully Melissa, I disagree. I read through the comments on both threads. The context and tone from various commentators did bring these issues up - hence the back and forth and divergent POVs.

There's a problem and it's acknowledged even among the teens themselves. The way my brain works is when I see a problem, I try to figure out a way to fix it. IMO, the fix for it to be effective has to come from the teenagers themselves. They have to change their behaviors and mindset. To get there, adults must engage with these students. We adults can set the tone, be the moderating force, demonstrate positive modeling behaviors so young people can look to, and lay out a framework for change. This is where I'm coming from.

disappointed reader

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

How would you have addressed this situation had you come upon it?

What did Mr. Howard do wrong or rather, what should he have done differently?

What do you think he should do now and what modeling for all the OTHER students who did not engage in this behavior should he offer?

I get this feeling that by pointing out to the kids what they did wrong that somehow that's wrong.

I think Mr. Howard modeled some good behavior and, considering how he was treated, did great.

Anonymous said...

WSDWG, above. And retiring from this thread.

Anonymous said...

To not be froshed is a humiliation.

No, it isn't. Nobody cares if a kid chooses to frosh or be froshed. There is no "popular kids clique" they'll be admitted or barred from based on that decision, i.e., "social suicide." This isn't Mean Girls or Heathers, and way too much has been made of threshold decision to frosh or not. It's no wonder the kids have tuned out, because we keep telling a story that doesn't exist.

Yes, peer pressure is always at play, but we're stuck in a false narrative that's lead us astray, down memory lane, and into TV and the movies, but away from the facts.

The kids have shared their side of the story, and we've said, "Yeah, right!" Their silence and disengagement ever since should not surprise us.

There's a bucket full of teachable moments here, but most see one or two. That's a shame. But, I'm done beating a dead horse. Mine is a minority approach and that's fine.

One thing my kids have learned is that once the sheet hits the fan, the true facts get obliterated in the sheet storm, so you've got to learn quickly if you want to know the truth.

@Sad Mom: Lowell had one of the lowest reported incidents of bullying in the district and had The Lowell Way creed sung every morning by the kids that went like this:

We care for and support
all of the Lowell School family,
We speak out against unfair or hurtful behavior towards others
and get adult help when needed.
We use extra effort to include
all students in activities
at our school.

That's all gone now for APP, but we have it pinned to our bulletin board in the hall as a reminder.

WSDWG

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Lowell sounds great and should be a model for all schools.