Hazing: Any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person's willingness to participate.
It is not uncommon for students to use terms like "tradition," "rites of passage," or "stunts," to excuse or deny hazing behavior. Some view hazing as leading to positive outcomes such as bonding, group unity, a sense of belonging, and a feeling of achievement. Even when students acknowledge that a groups' behavior may constitute hazing, they often justify the behaviors by discounting the seriousness or categorizing it as "low" level hazing. According to students, "low level" hazing is viewed as silly activities, scavenger hunts, drinking games, nudity, and sexual simulations that are often described as "fun." In labeling some behaviors as less serious, students fail to understand that activities that may seem like harmless activities to some can be uncomfortable and emotionally charged for others. An individual's past experiences with physical, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse can drastically affect they way they react.
Hazing is an abusive and destructive practice found on high school and college campuses and in organizations across the nation and worldwide. Hazing often robs people of their dreams and ability to trust in others and tragically robs many of their lives. Hazing can be subtle or violent. It is about power disguised as an event to create unity. The psychology of hazing is complex, but one thing is certain - the effects of hazing are deep and long lasting.
Information adapted from Elizabeth J. Allan, Ph.D., University of Maine; Mary Madden Ph.D., University of Maine - “Yeah, but it wasn’t hazing!"
Myth #1: Hazing is a problem primarily for fraternities and sororities.
Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious cults, professional schools and other types of clubs and/or, organizations. Reports of hazing activities in high schools are on the rise.
Myth #2: Hazing is no more than foolish pranks that sometimes go awry.
Fact: Hazing is an act of power and control over others --- it is victimization. Hazing is pre-meditated and NOT accidental. Hazing is abusive, degrading and often life-threatening.
Myth #3: As long as there's no malicious intent, a little hazing should be O.K.
Fact: Even if there's no malicious "intent" safety may still be a factor in traditional hazing activities that are considered to be "all in good fun." For example, serious accidents have occurred during scavenger hunts and kidnapping trips. Besides, what purpose do such activities serve in promoting the growth and development of group/team members?
Myth #4: Hazing is an effective way to teach respect and develop discipline.
Fact: Respect must be EARNED--not taught. Victims of hazing rarely report having respect for those who have hazed them. Just like other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy and alienation.
Myth #5: If someone agrees to participate in an activity, it can't be considered hazing.
Fact: In states that have laws against hazing, consent of the victim can't be used as a defense in a civil suit. Even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action it may not be true consent when considering the peer pressure and desire to belong to the group.
Myth #6: It's difficult to determine whether or not a certain activity is hazing--it's such a gray area sometimes.
Fact: It's not difficult to decide if an activity is hazing if you use common sense and ask yourself the following questions:
If the answer to ANY of these questions is "yes," the activity is most likely hazing.
Adapted from Death By Hazing Sigma Alpha Epsilon. 1988
44 States have hazing laws. Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Wyoming do not have anti-hazing laws.
The following Hazing Policy was passed by the Texas State Legislature relating to offenses related to hazing at or in connection with an educational institution. To examine hazing laws in your state, please visit http://www.stophazing.org/laws.html.
Personal Hazing Offense
Sec. 4.53 Organization Hazing Offense
Sec. 4.54 Consent Not a Defense
It is not a defense to prosecution for the offense under this subchapter that the person against whom the hazing was directed consented to or acquiesced in the hazing activity.
This subchapter does not affect or repeal any penal law of this state. Nothing in this subchapter shall limit or affect the right of an educational institution to enforce its own penalties against hazing.
Sec. 4.57 Reporting by Medical Authorities
Treatment of a student who may have been subjected to hazing activities may be reported to police or other law enforcement officials. The doctor of medical practitioner so reporting shall be immune from civil suit or other liability that might otherwise be imposed or incurred as a result of the report, unless the report is made in bad faith or with malice.
Sec. 4.58 Publication of Subchapter
1. Each postsecondary educational institution shall cause to be published or distributed to each student during the first three weeks of each semester a summary of the provisions of this subchapter.
2. The institution shall publish or distribute in the same manner a list of organizations that have been disciplined for hazing or convicted for hazing on or off the campus of the institution during the previous three years.
3. If the institution publishes a general catalog, student handbook, or similar publication, it shall publish a summary of the provisions of this subchapter in each edition of that catalog, handbook, or similar publication.
Section 3 Sec. 4.19
Education Code is repealed
If any provision of this Act or its application to any person, entity, or circumstances is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions or applications of this Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.
Hazing in View: College Students at Risk (2008)
Elizabeth J. Allan, Ph.D., and Mary Madden, Ph.D., associate professors at the University of Maine, present alarming findings in one of the most comprehensive studies examining the reality of hazing practices among college students. Among the results, they report that "55% of college students involved in clubs, teams, or organizations experience hazing" and that "alcohol consumption, humiliation, isolation, sleep-deprivation, and sex acts are hazing practices common across types of student groups." In addition, the researchers provide a number of insightful reccomendations to combat this problem, many of which are currently being utilized across the nation. Read their full report here.
Alfred University Hazing Survey (1999)
Despite having older statsitics, this comprehensive survey by Alfred University effectively details different types of hazing and accurately explains rationales for hazing rites that still exist today. It is available for review here.