Often times hazing is a big problem we see occurring in our society. Whether it is occurring within a sports team, sorority, school, friends, or even a group of co-workers, we hear about it on a relatively frequent basis. Often times hazing stories are justified by the person committing the act of hazing and over dramatized by the media. Conducting a full study on whether hazing actually exists and the multiple ways it exists can help members of our society to further understand the implications of the action.
Throughout this study the definition of hazing has been explored as well as superfluous examples to prove hazing is prominent in our society and laws and actions taken against those who haze. Educating those around us on hazing can help end the action altogether in an effort to make our society more welcoming and less threatening. Hazing is a form of an initiation ceremony which is used as a way to induct newcomers into an organization such as a private school, sports team, sorority or any small group of people with similar interests.
The most prominent groups in which hazing takes place are sororities and sports teams, however smaller social groups also display this behavior such as gangs, military units and workplaces. Although some skeptics believe that hazing is just something that has recently exploded in our society due to mass media and technology, other sources suggest that “the history of hazing is ancient with documented cases dating to at least the 1600’s. “ (Smith). A problem associated with hazing are the stereotypes that are equated with the actions.
Allen says that “often times stereotypes shape perceptions of what hazing actually is, and only define those actions as a problem for athletes apart of sports teams, but consider some actions of other groups as simple antics and pranks”. Lipkins says “hazing is a dangerous cycle. It is passed down generation to generation”. Shared coping is defined as a way for a specific group, whether it be a freshmen class, pledge class or inexperienced members of a sports team, to come together by bonding over the hazing incidents they endured and using humiliation as a main way to make friends and share a particular commonality.
Shared coping is also directly influenced by cycles of abuse. Cycles of abuse are not a way for people to justify hazing, however people often forget that those who haze others, were often hazed themselves, using the act of hazing those under them as a way to revenge those who initially made them feel that pain before. What people do not understand is that hazing cannot just be justified as foolish antics and pranks, when severe repercussions of hazing have been recorded.
Psychological and physical harm are commonly reported outcomes of hazing. Sometimes the behavior can be deadly to those who were hazing causing even more backlash to the programs whom allow such groups to abuse students. After understanding and exploring the different facets in which hazing is taken place, understanding the specific actions that define hazing can further help to educate those who might be in a dangerous situation.
Any action that intentionally causes embarrassment, harassment, ridicule, risks emotional or physical harm to new or old members of a group or team regardless of willingness is considered hazing. In college, more traditional hazing techniques include “unsafe and unwilling alcohol consumption, humiliation, isolation from the group, sleep deprivation and even sexual acts including those of the same sex. ” (Madden). Although these types of hazing rituals are being prevented by stricter and more occurring laws, discrete forms of hazing do exist to help hazers get around breaking the law.
The most commonly reported discrete hazing methods, as reported by college students include “testing new members on information and intelligence in an effort to make one feel inferior, socially isolating those part of the group, requiring new members to perform tasks no member has ever been asked to do, denying privileges given to other members of that same group, roast or skit nights, being forced to sing or chant, embarrassing clothing, being yelled and cursed at, tattoos and piercings and finally, acting as a personal servant to those doing the hazing” says Mulvey.
Much speculation exists with the accusation that hazing is a prominently negative aspect in our society. Although many laws exist to prevent hazing in our society, examples and evidence had to be collected in order to present the fact that hazing does exist. Although hazing is viewed to be a problem and considered negative, many people believe hazing to be a naturally occurring situation that members should have to deal with.
According to Holmes, “Many student athletes believe the myths that hazing will accomplish team bonding and building, instill needed humility in new eam members, establish a hierarchy for leadership and most importantly, decision making within the team”. More students tend to perceive positive rather than negative outcomes from hazing and recognize hazing as part of campus culture and ritual. Ninety-one percent of kids who have been physically hazed do not consider themselves to have been hazed due to this mindset that hazing is just campus culture. Sixty percent of students agree that it is important to tolerate physical stress and thirty-two percent agree that it is important to tolerate physical pain from hazing.
Keeping the code of silence is also an important aspect within kids who get hazed relating back to the cycle of abuse and revenge to those who preceded the hazers. However many examples of hazing exist to prove that hazing is without a doubt a negative aspect related to the so called “campus culture”. Robert Champion, a recent high school graduate was recently killing on a school bus after injuries due to hazing from his peers, shorting after, Bria Hunter came forward stating that she was brutally beaten in a hazing ritual on her school bus as well.
James says that “we made our pledges sit outside in dresses and sell lemonade, but instead of selling for money, they were selling one chance to hit a pledge in the privates with a baseball bat”. Another Greek life incident occurred at the University of South Florida, requiring the suspension of the sorority Omega Psi Phi in 2012 after former students beat some current students at a nearby vacant store.
To support the thought that hazing even exists in NFL football, a few rookie players have come forth admitting that veteran players have hazed them by requiring them to cut their hair in obscure fashions and to hold their heavy equipment to and from practice. Statistics gathered through research prove that hazing is prominent in our society. One and half million high school students are hazed each year and forty-seven percent of students enter college having already experienced some kind of hazing.
A survey conducted by Holmes of 11,482 undergrad students, fifty-five percent have experienced hazing and ninety-five percent did not report those hazing incidents. Hazing has also been listed as occurring in the work place and ninety-two percent of people have been hazed at some point by the time they retire. Fifty-five percent of college students involved experience hazing, twenty-five percent of coaches or advisors are aware of hazing incidents, twenty-five percent of incidents occur on campus in public and twenty-five percent of alumni are present uring these incidents. According to Lipkins, “36% of students say they would not report a hazing incident primarily because there is nobody to tell and 27% feel as though adults would not handle it right even if they did report it. ” Mascarenas says “If you are going to call people in your fraternity “brothers”, you should act like one”. Hazing is illegal in most states. The following states are the only states without any anti-hazing laws; Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, Hawaii, New Mexico and Wyoming.
With that in mind, hazing is considered illegal in forty four states and comprises of any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades or abuses a person’s willingness to participate” (Holmes). Mascarenas explains that “Florida passed a law in 2005 that allows students to face jail time if convicted with hazing, making Florida the state with the strictest hazing laws in the United States”. “Florida’s law states that a person convicted with hazing must complete a four hour long education course and drug and alcohol probation to prevent hazing from continuing” says Stevens.
UF Division of Students explains that “The Chad Meredith Act was named after Chad Meredith who died due to a hazing act at the University of Florida. The Act expands the definition of hazing and provides a limited exception for activities which increases the offense level to a third degree felony if the act of hazing results in serious injury or death. ” Fortunately for those wanting to participate in group activities, most groups have backed off on hazing due to the penalties expressed in this act.
It is important for people to know that if hazing was done for reasons other than for membership purposes, or done with the consent of the hazed or if the hazed is not a part of the group, all the actions taken against them will still be considered hazing and are still punishable. Actions a person can take against hazing include education to one’s self about what hazing is, talking to adults and talking to law enforcement. McGee says that “taking the steps to educate yourself about the laws in place to protect you against hazing, improves your safety”.
In an effort to maintain college’s credibility and avoid bad press, they have stopped the notion that hazing is just a part of campus life and culture. Most universities now provide counselors on campus to approach and receive help, as well as groups, an anonymous hotline to report your own hazing incidents, hazing suspicions, or acts of hazing towards peers. National hazing prevention week occurs on September 24-28. This week gives students even more insurance that they won’t be the next victim of hazing. To conclude this study of whether or not hazing exists, it is clear that it is indeed a big aspect in our society.
Occurring most commonly within sports teams, sororities and schools, hazing is not just a fragment of the media’s imagination, but rather a severe problem that affects much of the youth in our society today. Although some might justify the acts of hazing, it is understood that such actions are inexcusable and therefore punishable. The nation now provides means to keep students safe so the only variable left to protect the students identity is their own education of the topic. Educating those around us on hazing can help end the action altogether in an effort to make our society more welcoming and less threatening.