FNSB Superintendent Discusses Hazing Prevention

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - With all that is going on sports wise with the Anchorage School District, Devin Fry spoke to the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District about how they handle hazing situations.

"An incident of hazing gone too far, which allegedly saw members of the Dimond High School Football team violate their freshman teammates has become the most discussed topic in the state. That investigation is currently ongoing in Anchorage, and is being conducted by the Anchorage Police Department, with cooperation from their School District. This most recent situation has raised many questions about how we in Fairbanks prevent this from happening. We sat down with Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Gaborik, and she feels that even though the district has strict anti-hazing rules and regulations in writing, the coaches make the real difference."

Karen Gaborik: "The people on the front lines for this are the coaches. They're with the kids every day and they set the culture and set the team expectations for behavior. The coaches are really critical. Or activity sponsor or whoever is working with kids. So I think teachers can help pass on the message, principals can say something, the school board can take a stand, but the coaches on the field, in practices, in travel, how they interact with kids and what their expectations for behavior are is huge.

"Hazing has been a dark side of sports at all levels that, while we may not feel the impact too strongly here in Fairbanks, may never go away completely. This most recent situation has raised many questions in parents and families about the safety of their children. Not only during play, but off the field as well."

Karen Gaborik: "I feel like Parents should feel very good about Sports Programs and activities in Fairbanks in general. What makes them healthy activities and safe places for kids to be is the adult interaction. We've got staff involved but Parent involvement is huge. So, if we have engaged Parents and an engaged community... We help guide right? It's the adults who guide the kids around these things. I'm sure people who grew up in Fairbanks and went to school might have had some experience with these things, but in in the past few years, I couldn't come up with something like this, which speaks volumes about our parents, our coaches, and our kids who just say 'We expect this standard of behavior and citizenship.'"

"The Dimond football incident happened here in Fairbanks while the team was staying at Lathrop High School. According to some members of the community, some of the players involved posted on the Social Media App "Snapchat". It was reportedly visible to members of the community for around 24 hours before it was taken down. Gaborik says that says that any early signs of hazing should be reported and shut down."

Karen Gaborik: "I really do believe kids today mean well and want the healthiest atmosphere possible. So if these ideas creep in just squash it. As a student-athlete, you have the ability to do that, just squash it right away and let somebody know. We'll be in such a better place if we just take care of it ourselves and deal with it and just don't let it happen."