NEW ULM - An alarming game played at Washington Elementary School has set off a storm of reaction.
Speculation has spread on Facebook about a game called "rape tag."
It is described as similar to freeze tag, except it apparently involves "hip thrusts" to unfreeze a person.
A parent called Washington Principal Bill Sprung on Jan. 10 to notify him that the game was being played by fifth-graders at the school, Sprung said Tuesday night.
Some 15-20 students from two fifth-grade sections were involved in the game, said Sprung.
Sprung said he immediately notified fifth-grade teachers, who quickly addressed the matter with their classes. Sprung also notified recess supervisors.
School employees have since then closely monitored students; no recurrences of the game have been reported.
Last Thursday and into Friday, Sprung received a number of calls from parents wanting to know what had happened and what actions were taken.
Apparently, he said, rumors and speculation had spread on Facebook.
To give parents accurate information and end speculation, Sprung sent a letter about the matter home with students on Monday.
When handing out the letter, teachers advised students to talk with their parents if they have questions.
Sprung defended the school's approach in handling the issue.
The administration's actions were "more than adequate in terms of exterminating the game," he said.
Asked about the delay in notifying parents, Sprung noted that the behavior involved a small segment - less than 5 percent - of the student body; and it was immediately ended.
"If it hadn't ended, yes, we would have sent the letter sooner."
He cautioned against sensationalizing the issue.
"You have to balance the good and the bad. ... There are some sensitive lines you don't want to cross..."
The letter in itself appears to have triggered some discomfort.
Since it went out, Sprung said, he has been contacted by 15-20 parents, disturbed by the fact they now need to talk about sexually explicit issues such as rape with unaware children.