Illinois Hazing Incident Update

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, May 9, 2003 that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the Impact segment tonight, authorities in Illinois say they will file charges in a high school hazing incident. 

Here is some of the new video.  They're dumping stuff, all kinds of stuff on these girls.  Five of these girls are hospitalized after the hazing situation got out of hand.  Some broken bones here.  More than 100 students -- we can see -- oh, boy.  Look at this.  This is the first time I'm seeing this.  Oh.  A hundred students were watching this take place, obviously things getting out of hand rapidly. 

Criminal charges are going to be filed.  Northbrook is an affluent suburb outside of Chicago, and these hazing rituals have been going on for years there, according to graduates of the school.

Joining us now from Chicago is Dr. Stacey Horn, who teaches educational psychology at the University of Illinois.  Doctor, I know you couldn't see the video because you are in Chicago, and we don't have a playback for you, but, I mean, it's pretty vicious, and it's way beyond any hazing, it's way beyond anything other than assault.  You've got 100 kids standing around watching this kind of thing.  What does that say to you? 

STACEY HORN, PH.D., UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, CHICAGO:  Well, I think it's shocking, just like Columbine was shocking in that youth can engage in behaviors that we sort of assume that only criminals engage in.  And to me, what's the most shocking is the 100 youth who were not the perpetrators, but actually encouraging, participating in a crowd, the crowd mentality of urging these folks to sort of keep going, keep doing this.  So, I think it is shocking. 

O'REILLY:  All right, now we're at -- one of the reasons this happened is because some of these people were intoxicated.  We're looking at them drinking now.  Apparently a couple of kegs were in the field where they had this annual football game between the girls. 

Let's break it down.  You've got the perpetrators, some of whom will be arrested shortly, we understand, and then you have the innocent bystanders.  Now, the perpetrators, obviously, even though they're drunk or not, or whatever, I mean, they are inflicting violence.  I mean, hard violence on their peers.  And is that born out of frustration or what? 

HORN:  Well, we never know.  I mean, there is lots of studies on why kids engage in aggressive behaviors, and there's lots of conflicting reasons for that.  A situation like this, I think, is the result of a lot of things, It's the result of the fact that kids are hungry for rites of passage or meaningful situations in which they can connect to groups or...

O'REILLY:  But how could this possibly be meaningful?  I mean, how could this be meaningful to anyone?  This is Lord of the Flies stuff.  This is barbaric behavior.

HORN:  Right.  The complexity is that kids want that.  It's developmentally necessary, and what's happening is they're not getting it in healthy ways so, they're creating it in their own ways. 

O'REILLY:  All right, you are going to have to explain that to me.

HORN:  And then what you get...

O'REILLY:  You are going to have to explain that to me.  Kids want what exactly? 

HORN:  They want ways in which they know that they're connect to do a group, in which it's a rite of passage that they know they're sort of developing into adults or into roles and status positions.

O'REILLY:  And violent debauchery?  That's part of that?

HORN:  No, but what's happened is the rite of passage, which is typically a very sort of non-harmful -- we think of it as a positive thing.  Because the kids are sort of doing this on their own, engaging in their own way, it's often taken too far.

I think one of the things that contributes to this is the reality TV we have out there that puts forth, for example, the show Fear Factor that puts forth really disgusting and sometimes dangerous and often harmful kinds of activities that people are engaged in as entertainment.  So, kids are trying to make...

O'REILLY:  So, you think some imitation going on, some imitation by these people of what they have seen in the media.

HORN:  Yes, I think kids are trying to make sense of their world.  They're seeing these things on TV as entertainment.  They're thinking, we've got this rite of passage thing that we do that has been fun in the past.  Let's increase the volume.  Let's sort of think about how to make it more exciting or entertaining.  So, you get, you know, the same kinds of things that they see on TV happening with...

O'REILLY:  Yes.  All right, we have 30 seconds left.  The observers, the bystanders...

HORN:  Right.

O'REILLY:  ...  the people who were there watching and not anticipating or trying to disrupt or protect these people, are they guilty?  Are they as guilty as the perpetrators?

HORN:  I think, actually, we're all complicit in this.

O'REILLY:  Not me.  Professor, I'm not complicit in this at all.

HORN:  I think as a society, we often don't talk with people or talk with kids about how to have the courage to intervene when they...

O'REILLY:  Well, I'll tell you what, if I were in that field, this wouldn't be happening, OK?  And if the administrators and teachers of that school don't step up and explain why they allowed it to happen for so many years, I think they should all be fired.  I don't think it's a societal thing.  I think it's a breakdown of discipline at this individual school among these individual kids. 

Professor, we respect year opinion very much.  Thank you very much.

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