The Hazards of Hazing
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“The Hazards of Hazing,” New Era, June 2004, 38

The Hazards of Hazing

Hazing is what older or more experienced kids sometimes do to initiate new kids into a group. You might not think of hazing as a form of bullying—after all, even the most popular teenagers can be victims of hazing. And some people claim that hazing is “fun” and is a “bonding experience.” But, like traditional bullying, hazing is an act of control over others; can result in feelings of humiliation, fear, and distrust; and is sometimes physically dangerous.1

Hazing activities include making people wear embarrassing clothing in public, perform dangerous or ridiculous stunts, or participate in other activities that are degrading or humiliating. An activity is probably hazing if the answer to any of the following questions2 is yes:

  • Will more experienced members of the group refuse to do what the new members are being asked to do?

  • Does the activity involve physical or emotional abuse?

  • Could the activity be considered unsafe or dangerous?

  • Would you be embarrassed to describe the activity to a parent or teacher?

  • Would you not want the activity to be featured in your school newspaper or on the local news?

  • Is alcohol involved?

  • Is the activity illegal?

If you are a member of a group that is going to initiate new members, suggest planning positive alternatives to hazing such as a fun social or athletic event that will help old and new members of the group get to know each other.

If you fear you or a friend might be hazed, or if you have already been hazed, contact an adult—either a parent or school official. Hazing can have serious effects. Saying nothing could mean the activity continues—and someone might get hurt.

Notes

  1. See Kevin Bushweller, “Brutal Rituals, Dangerous Rites,” American School Board Journal, Aug. 2000, www.asbj.com/2000/08/0800coverstory.html.

  2. Questions adapted from Death by Hazing (pamphlet), Sigma Alpha Epsilon (1988), cited on www.stophazing.org.