Hazing and Anti Hazing Laws
Hazing is a ritual that has been conducted by school groups and organizations as a means to initiate new members into the “sacred circle” of the organization. In some cases, these rituals can be life threatening as members of the organization conduct physically and emotionally dangerous acts onto others who they wish to control.
Many states have worked hard passing an anti hazing law to help stop these heinous acts from continuing at all levels of education. In addition to state laws, many schools and universities have added no-tolerance policies against such practices. Knowing what hazing is, how to prevent hazing and the consequences surrounding such acts is just the beginning to stopping these practices from occurring.
What is hazing?
According to the Dean of Students at the University of Michigan, hazing is an action or situations that may recklessly endanger the mental, physical and academic safety of a student. Acts of hazing can be either intentionally or unintentionally done.
Some hazing acts may cause any of the following to an individual or group:
- Risk of injury
- Overall discomfort
- Destruction of property
Signs of hazing
The first step to preventing and stopping hazing acts from happening is being able to reorganize the signs of hazing. Each type of hazing activity will have its own sign, but all can be devastating to the one being hazed. Here are some of the most common signs hazing activities are occurring:
- Cutting, branding, labeling or shaving specific body parts
- Greeting specific people in a certain manner
- Required to walk or hang out with a specific group
- Carrying certain items all the time
- Loss of voice
- Performing unusual tasks
- Participating in activities resulting in lack of sleep
- Staying away for days and weeks at a time
- Not being able to sit down from being paddled
- Always physically exhausted
- Feeling inferior and sad most of the time
- Not participating in normal activities or spending time with old friends
- Being left in a new location to find way back alone
Targets of hazing
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, close to 1.5 million high school students have been targeted by hazing activities. Many of which have reported their first incident of hazing before the age of 13.
Students who are commonly targeted by hazers, include those who younger, quieter and already suffer from self-esteem issues. New students and freshman looking to fit in are also target of hazing activities.
Some school groups, such as sports teams, choirs, bands and clubs conduct hazing pranks as a way to initiate new members into the group. Because of these practices and the passing of anti hazing laws, schools have become more vigilant on preventing and stopping these practices occurring on campus, at school events and among students.
Examples of hazing rituals
The type of hazing ritual used depends greatly upon the type of origination, its current members, those being initiated in and the organization’s history. All acts of hazing are meant to humiliate new initiates getting them to prove their loyalty by doing what is asked.
The University of Vermont passed an anti hazing law back in 1999 due to an incident of hazing for the schools hockey team. The team forced new players to drink warm bear until they were so drunk they started vomiting. Then, the freshman players were forced to perform the “Elephant Walk.” There are various ways this is completed, but all involve men walking in a straight line, naked and performing some sort of sexually humiliating act together.
- Boob ranking – where girls are forced to take off their tops and have their boobs ranked by others in the organization
- Your choice – where initiates are to choose between taking an illegal substance or conducting a sexual act in front of others in the organization
- Sharpie art – where rude and obscene items are drawn on the body using a Sharpie marker
- Drinking until initiate passes out
- Pouring boiling water over various parts of the body
- Humiliation by feces and urine
- Drinking strange concoctions, such as ketchup and Tabasco sauce
- Public humiliation
- Sharpie arrows to point out issues with one’s body, such as pimples or fat
- Water overdose
Anti hazing laws
Many are banding together to prevent hazing activities from occurring at all levels of academia, including high school and college. According to StopHazing.org, only 44 out of the 50 states have anti hazing laws in place. Those six states without an anti hazing law include Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Those states with laws prohibiting hazing have made it illegal for anyone, including high school students, to perform any acts which may be considered hazing. In some states, if caught and found guilty, the student could face jail time and be forced to pay a penalty. Penalties and jail time depend greatly upon the hazing activity and amount of harm caused to the target or targets.
Most schools and universities have anti hazing policies which may be punishable by a variety of penalties at the school’s level. Penalties may include suspension from school or being completely kicked out of the school and not being able to return.
Consequences of hazing
Of course you have the emotional, academic and physical damage caused to the person being targeted by hazing. However, they are not the only ones who may face the consequences of hazing.
According to Babson College the person doing the hazing may face the following consequences:
- Legal actions, including criminal record, jail time and/or fines
- School disciplinary actions
- Sanctions against the organization
- Personal impact such as decline in grades, loss of connections and damage to one’s reputation
- Civil lawsuits being filed against the hazer
Hazing is more about power and control than anything else. Those doing the hazing have a need to feel powerful over others. This process can cause severe academic issues and destroy a person’s self-esteem.
- More than 250,000 students are subjected to hazing rituals
- 5 percent of all college students admit they were hazed
- 40 percent of those who were hazed reported that a coach or advisor was aware of the practice
- 50 percent of female NCAA Division I athletes report being hazed
- More than 20 percent of female NCAA athletes are subjected to alcohol hazing
- 6-9 percent of female NCAA athletes who reported being hazed state sexual conduct as part of the hazing
- More than half of the hazing acts are posted on the Internet for others to see
- Students believe that hazing is part of campus culture
- 36 percent of students would not report activities because of a “no tell” policy within their organization
- 27 percent feel that adults would not be able to handle a hazing situation properly
Alternatives to hazing
Instead of participating in hazing related activities, there are a variety of different activities schools and organizations can do. These activities still get new initiates to help out, without the danger of physical and emotional damage and without the humiliation factor.
According to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, here are some alternate activities organizations can implement:
- School-wide scavenger hunt
- Cleaning organization property with other members
- Facility improvement projects
- Community service requirements
- Sports competitions
- Tests about the organization’s history
- Talent show with all members
- Gatherings and group activities
Many schools and universities have organizations that were set up to help those who have been targeted by hazing. These organizations work to prevent and stop hazing form happening at their school. Through awareness and activities, these organizations strive to stop the heinous act of hazing all together. Many groups will band together to help other schools and groups in need by helping set up their own anti hazing organizations.
Help your school by volunteering with its anti hazing group. If you school does not have one, get others involved and set one up yourself. With the help of the school, your anti hazing group can help spread awareness and work together to stop hazing practices from happening on your campus and within your community.
Hazing is close to being considered bullying acts, which are also punishable by state laws, as well as punishments set forth by school policies. In both practices, the person conducting the hazing (or bullying) targets those who are weaker and he or she believes can be controlled. Stopping these activities at school will help reduce the amount of students who suffer from low self-esteem hopefully boost morale across campus.