List of school pranks
A school prank — to be carefully distinguished from school bullying or assault — is a prank primarily occurring in a school setting. The effect and intent of school pranks may include everyday play and supposedly consensual bonding behaviour. Genuine pranks can involve elaborate planning and teamwork, and they are generally harmless to all concerned, since they will not involve property damage, bullying or physical harm to anyone. When the prank has run its course, the prankster is expected to restore matters to the status quo ante.
If not checked, vigorous but usually inoffensive bonding behaviour, however, can easily progress into physically or psychologically abusive hazing “traditions” of military units and fraternities. While much hazing amounts to severe bullying, its more extreme forms, as well as physical abuse, assaults and sexual assaults, are overt crimes.
A practical joke or prank is a mischievous joke played on someone, typically causing embarrassment, confusion or discomfort, and is generally lighthearted, reversible and non-permanent. An extraordinary example of these relatively harmless pranks is the history of University of British Columbia engineering undergraduates, who regularly arrange stunts like suspending the body of a Volkswagen Beetle from major bridges in Vancouver and elsewhere. Those so-called practical jokes which are thoughtlessly mean-spirited or cruel should be avoided, however, since they harm the victim and engender a lack of empathy in the perpetrator. Some things which were once thought funny are no longer seen by most people in the same light.
- Short sheeting, also known as a 'wallet bed' (lit en portefeuille) in France or an 'apple-pie bed' in the U.K., is a prank that has sometimes been done at boarding schools, college dormitories, summer camps and in military barracks. The perpetrator untucks a bed sheet at the head end of the bed and folds it to simulate two sheets (an undersheet and a top sheet). The victim will be unable to lie down without remaking the bed.
Rude or churlish behaviour
- Mooning is the insult of defiantly displaying one's bared buttocks to someone, so-called because the buttocks are generally not suntanned and supposedly resemble a full moon. It is commonly performed out of the windows of moving buses and cars.
Forms of school bullying
School bullying is one form of victimization or physical abuse which has sometimes been unofficially encouraged, ritualized or even minimized as a sort of prank by teachers or older students. Unlike true pranks, however, bullying is always harmful to its victims, and if the bully goes unpunished, the bully’s future behaviour may become more severe, making him or her a danger to other students.
- Circle game: In this so-called game, a bully holds his arm downward, forming his hand into a circle. If the potential victim is tricked into looking at the bully’s hand, the bully takes this as licence to hit the victim. This form of physical abuse is the central theme of one episode of the Malcolm in the Middle television series.
- Debagging: In this form of abuse, the bully gets behind his intended victim to forcibly tug down his waistband and underwear, leaving the victim partially naked.
- Flat foot: A bully tries to make someone fall by purposely treading on the victim’s shoe heel or kicking the heel forwards. In the “flat tire” variant, if the bully steps down as the foot is lifting, he may cause the shoe to come off his victim’s foot.
- Kick-me: A bully will pretend to be overly friendly and slap his unsuspecting victim on the back while secretly taping on a note reading “Kick me”.
- Nettle burn, known in various countries as "Chinese burn”, "snake bite" or “nettle”: The abuser firmly grasps the victim's forearm with both hands, then twisting in opposite directions, stretching tender skin and making it red and sore.
- Noogie: The bully vigorously rubs the knuckles of two fingers or the heel of the hand against the surface of the victim’s scalp, stretching the skin and pulling the hair, sometimes whilst trapping the victim in a headlock.
- Shoe-lacing: The bully ties a victim's shoelaces together or to a chair leg or even secretly cuts them with scissors, typically while the victim is seated and distracted. This may cause a trip or stumble when the victim attempts to get up and move. The bully may also taunt or provoke the victim into running after him.
- Spitball: A vandal or bully chews a clump of paper, mixing it with his saliva, then throws, spits or blows it through a straw at a person or object. Larger spitballs are sometimes flicked with the fingers, a flexible ruler or through the use of a rubber band. If not removed from some types of surface, the vandal’s spitballs will dry and harden into a sort of paper cement. If directed at a person, the victim will experience humiliation but not usually pain.
- Towel snap, towel whip, rat tail or kangaroo tail: In a communal shower or elsewhere, a bully twists a dampened towel along the diagonal to form a sort of whip with a towel corner at the tip, then snaps the towel as if cracking a whip, striking the victim with the end tip of the towel and causing pain.
- Wedgie: In a “wedgie,” “gotchie" or "grundy”, an abuser, acting alone or as part of a group, pulls up on a victim's underwear so that it bunches up between the buttocks or rips. In 2006 an Albany, New York teacher was arrested for child endangerment after allegedly perpetrating such an assault on a ten-year-old pupil.
In 2007 two second-grade students created "wedgie-proof" underwear with a tear-away waistband for the Central Ohio Invention Competition 2007; their invention got them into the finals.
- Wet Willy: In elementary schools and elsewhere, an assailant licks his finger, then gets behind a victim and inserts the finger into an ear canal.
Torture and indecent assaults
It should not need to be stated, but any form of indecent assault or physical or psychological torture is a crime in every jurisdiction. Torture, whether carried out by individuals, groups or states, is a crime under international and national laws.
- Kancho: In Japan, a bully may clasp his hands together so that index fingers are pointing out and attempts to poke a victim’s anal region. In South Korea this form of assault is known as Dongjim.
- Nipple cripple: This form of assault is also known as "titty twister," "purple nurple," etc. The bully grasps a person's nipple between thumb and forefinger, then twisting it, often causing extreme pain for the victim.
- Swirly, also known as "bog washing" or "dunnyflushing:" Two or more abusers collude to suspend a victim upside down over a a toilet bowl while flushing. As with the illegal waterboarding practice of the CIA, this form of torture can result in the drowning of the victim. Incidents of swirling have been prosecuted in courts, and the hazards of this cruel practice are not always the obvious ones. For example, Jonathan, a Mexican seven-year-old student from Encinillas, Jalisco attending Valentín Gómez Farías elementary school in Tlacuitapa, died March 9, 2013, of cardiac arrest while being rushed to hospital. His death came after an advanced and worsening lung infection precipitated by an incident of "swirly" abuse, led by a ten-year-old schoolmate who allegedly had a prolonged history of bullying Jonathan, a history which even included regularly beating and robbing the intimidated boy.
- "Practical joke". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
- Greg Tananbaum and Dan Martin (2005). Atomic Wedgies, Wet Willies, and Other Acts of Roguery. Santa Monica Press. ISBN 978-1-59580-000-8.
- Malcolm in the Middle, "Dinner Out" episode, 15 November 2000, Fox Broadcasting Company
- Hume, Brit (2006-04-06). "Charges for Giving a Wedgie". Fox News.
- "Twins, 8, invent 'wedgie-proof' underpants". MSNBC. 2007-11-02.
- "wet willy - Wiktionary". En.wiktionary.org. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
- Via Akifokur1 (2013-03-15). "Wet Willie On the News - Video". Collegehumor.com. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
- 佐藤 信正（さとう のぶまさ）. "(Japanese) Kancho across the world in Japan, Korea". Trendy.nikkeibp.co.jp. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
- "Despiden a niño fallecido por presunto 'bullying'", 12 March 2013, El Informador, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Accessed 24 August 2014.
- Steinberg, Neil (1992). If at all possible, involve a cow : the book of college pranks. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-07810-2.