Multiple cases of yearbook pranks are in the news this month as students around the country receive their books:
- Students at Marysville High School in northern California opened their yearbooks earlier this month to see nearly 200 sexual innuendos and errors.
- In Cupertino, California, Monta Vista High School students opened their books June 5 and found an anti-semitic prank in the latest edition of their yearbook. A student changed the name of a Jewish student in a team sports photo by inserting the word “Jew.”
- A student hacker at an Oregon middle school inserted “inappropriate material into yearbook page designs before the book was sent to print. School officials only discovered the hacking after the pages were already the printer and it was too late to fix. Stickers were placed over the inappropriate content, but students were able to peel them off, prompting administrators to ask for students to return the books.
As the SPLC’s fall 2013 edition of the Report noted, a handful of yearbook vandalism incidents occur every year around May and June, as many school sessions come to a close, and can sometimes cost schools thousands of dollars in for reprinting.
Some advisers and yearbook companies take steps to try and prevent vandalism. Most rely on systems that limit page access to specific students or the adviser, thus limiting the student pranksters’ ability to make changes after they’ve already been proofed by editors.
“When I hear of other yearbook’s situations it’s always a ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ kind of moment,” Soboroff told the Report.
For the pranksters, there are varying consequences. Punishments for the offenders usually range in school disciplinary actions or civil lawsuits, but one case in Columbia, Missouri, last year resulted in criminal charges (they were later dismissed).