WEST CHESTER (March 29) – Legislation to expand Pennsylvania’s Anti-Hazing Law to high schools is one step closer to enactment  after it was unanimously passed by the Senate Education Committee recently.

“This legislation can help prevent and deter instances of hazing by sending a strong and clear message to high school students, athletes and young adults that it will result in real consequences,” state Senator Andy Dinniman said.

Furthermore, under an amendment added by Dinniman, the bill calls for high schools to take clear preventative measures such as establishing anti-hazing policies, rules, and penalties, and requiring that a copy of such policies be provided to coaches.

Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, called for the committee to take up House Bill 1574.

Currently, Pennsylvania’s anti-hazing law, Act 175 of 1986, only applies to public and private institutions of higher education. The law establishes the crime of hazing as a third-degree misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $2,000.

House Bill 1574 calls for better protections for student athletes, and young people from hazing by expanding Pennsylvania’s anti-hazing law to apply to public and private secondary schools (grades 7 through 12), as well as organizations affiliated with schools in which students participate.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 197-3 in November. Based on Senate Education Committee action, the bill, with Dinniman’s amendment, now goes to the Senate floor.

Dinniman also stated that it is important to note that in the American justice system anyone accused of hazing or charged with an additional crime based on alleged hazing has a right to a fair trial and is innocent until proven guilty.

“The safety of our young people is crucial to their well-being and their educational success. This must be the paramount concern of our schools and this legislation is designed with that in mind,” Dinniman said.

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