Circles of Care: Diocese of Baton Rouge- Safe Environment

What is Hazing?

Hazing is humiliating and dangerous activity expected of someone joining a group, regardless of the person's willingness to participate.
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A Quiz

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Myth #1: Hazing is a problem for fraternities and sororities primarily.

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 organizations. Reports of hazing in high schools are on the rise.

Myth #2: As long as there is no malicious intent, a little hazing should be okay.

FACT: Even if there is 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.

Myth #3: Hazing is no more than foolish pranks that 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 #4: Hazing is an effective way to teach and respect discipline.

FACT: First of all, 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 a a hazing activity, it can't be considered hazing.

FACT: In states that have laws against hazing, consent of the victim cannot be used as a defense in a civil suit. This is because even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially dangerous or hazardous action, it may not be true consent when considering the peer pressure and desire to belong to the group.

Myth #6: Hazing is no big deal.

FACT: Hazing is against the law and a person may be prosecuted for a misdemeanor if involved in any hazing activity.

Myth #7: It's difficult to determine whether or not certain activity is hazing. It's a grey area.

FACT: It's not difficult to decide if an activity is hazing if you use common sense and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is alcohol involved?
  2. Will active/current members of the group refuse to participate with the new members and do exactly what they are being asked to do?
  3. Does the activity risk emotional or physical abuse?
  4. Is there risk of injury or question of safety?
  5. Do you have any reservation describing the activity to your parents, to a teacher, or to another official?
  6. Would you object to the activity being photographed or filmed for the newspaper or local TV news?

If the answer is "yes" to ANY of these questions, the activity is probably hazing.

Hazing Statistics

High School Students

According to a study published in 2000 by Alfred University, 48% of high school students reported being subject to hazing by school groups, 43% subjected to humiliating hazing, 30% forced to perform illegal acts, both males and females were involved.

NCAA Sports

A 1999 study of hazing in NCAA sports reported the following:

  • 79% of student athletes, or about 250,000 students, experience hazing.
  • 1 in 5 students are subjected to unacceptable and potentially illegal hazing such as beatings and being tied up, being forced to destroy property, or harass others.
  • 50% were required to participate in drinking contests or alcohol-related hazing
  • Only 1 in 5 students participated in positive initiations such as team trips or ropes courses.

Negative Consequences of Hazing

71% of high school students involved in hazing experience consequences such as:

  • Getting into fights
  • Being injured
  • Fighting with parents
  • Doing poorly in school
  • Hurting other people
  • Having difficulty eating, sleeping, concentrating
  • Feeling angry, confused, guilty

Who is Involved?

  • 24% Sports
  • 16% Peer groups
  • 8% Music, art, theatre groups
  • 7% Church groups

What could we do to prevent hazing while promoting team- or group-building?