Ellen DeLara, associate professor in the Falk College’s School of Social Work, interviewed hundreds of students for a book she co-authored, “And Words Can Hurt Forever: How to Protect Adolescents from Bullying, Harassment, and Emotional Violence.” She recently spoke with Channel 9/WSYR (ABC-TV) about the problem of hazing among student-athletes and the active, on-going roles parents and other adults must play. “Adults cannot afford to pay attention to hazing only when an incident erupts,” notes deLara. “Hazing is typically a part of an organization’s ongoing culture and traditions. Consequently, adults need to be looking for it, reviewing group practices, and interviewing kids about the types of ‘bonding’ they are participating in.”
deLara encourages parents to talk with their children about hazing for several reasons. “Sometimes kids end up quitting a team or a club due to these practices but parents never know the real reason why.” She adds, when hazing occurs, without prior discussion with a parent, kids don’t know what to do. They think they have entered of their own ‘free will’ but they end up being asked or demanded to do things they don’t want to do. As a result of talking it over with parents beforehand, they can have some strategies to help them in difficult circumstances.” In addition to schools constantly enforcing hazing policies and allowing students to get involved with education campaigns, deLara notes students need clear definitions of hazing from adults who take it seriously. She encourages parents to talk with their children about hazing.
deLara’s areas of research focus include childhood bullying and adolescent development. She is a faculty fellow at the Family Life Development Center at Cornell University, she is focused on research in the areas of school violence, bullying, and social policy. Her original research was provided to the American Medical Association for its platform statement on the national recognition of the social phenomenon of bullying.