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Mother recounts tale of terror after son assaulted


Staff Writer

The woman sitting in an El Centro restaurant Wednesday is trying hard to maintain her composure while telling a story that is clearly painful.

She's a mother of a high school freshman here in Imperial Valley and although she doesn't want her family's identity known, she does want other parents to understand just how damaging hazing can be — to the victim and his family.

"My child was held down and literally beat black and blue with wooden paddles … and he is not the same child he was before the attack," she said as she picked at a salad. "Before the attack he was very easygoing, confident. Now he's extremely sensitive and I honestly believe he was very fearful going to school on that first day."


Her voice quavers as she says, "We're talking about assault, brutal assault. My son weighed only 96 pounds at the time and the boys who attacked him were all older and much bigger than him."

Her son was attacked or "initiated" by five older students on the first day of last year's summer break as he left a football practice at the high school campus.

It was only later in the day when her son complained of not feeling well that his mother discovered what had happened.

"He finally showed me the bruises; from the waist down, all over his buttocks he was covered in bruises. He was just black and blue from all the bruising."

Although the boy did not want his mother to report the incident, she did report it to his coach, who was evidently furious and said he would report it to the proper authorities.

Claiming that this was not done and that the issue was handled badly at the school and district levels, the mother of this victim has a message for other parents.

"Talk to your children, find out what's going on in their lives, protect them as best you can and however difficult it may be, do the right thing by reporting this type of abuse."

With eyes downcast she will tell you she did not want to make a "big deal" out of what occurred; did not want to cause a "scandal."

"I didn't want these kids to go to jail. All I wanted was for them to be punished (by the school) and for their parents to be notified … but I don't believe that happened and yes, I feel betrayed by the school district."

She says she has now educated herself as to what hazing is by going on the Internet and talking to other parents. She also says she is aware her son's school is not the only school in Imperial Valley where hazing takes place.

Like many parents, she initially thought it was a problem only in sports groups and found only at the college level. Now she knows for a sad fact that it happens at high schools, too, and not only in sports groups. She's read that females can be involved in hazing as well as males and even church youth groups are not immune from hazing.

"I also read somewhere that if you have to ask if it's hazing, then it most probably is."

Saddened and shocked by what happened to her son, she still manages to find the positive in an otherwise horrible situation.

"I asked my son one day if he didn't feel like just being able to hold those boys down and beat them the way they beat him. His answer to me was, ‘Mom, two wrongs don't make a right.'"

Pausing for a moment while a waitress clears plates from the table, she then continues, "… I was so proud that I had taught him right from wrong but so sad that he had gone through this experience."

>>Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or

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