By Jasmine York
Hazing is dangerous. It’s not just boys being boys, or girls being catty. It’s led to serious physical harm and even death, and it’s an issue many teens face before they ever get to college. It occurs in many different arenas and is common among student groups in middle and high schools, particularly among marching bands and athletic teams.
One of the biggest problems with the hazing epidemic is the underlying code of silence among students. Most students either don’t recognize it when it occurs or don’t speak up about it. Hank Nuwer, author of “High School Hazing” and one of the leading opponents of hazing, shared his thoughts on how to help end it.
Hazing is more than just intentionally causing physical harm as part of an organization’s initiation. It also includes any willful action or circumstance that endangers a student mentally.
break the code of silence
Unfortunately, a lot of hazing incidents don’t get reported until someone gets seriously injured or worse, dies. Because these types of incidents typically don’t occur around school administrators, students have the bigger job of reporting it to authorities. Whether students realize it or not, hazing is a Class C misdemeanor. Most schools have a policy against it, and people involved in the act will face the consequences. “If a student is a victim of hazing or witnesses hazing, he or she should report it. If the problem is going to be addressed, the hazing must be reported. At our school, these reports can be made to the advisor of the organization or the Office of Student Conduct,” said Jill Moore, Greek Life Director at Auburn University.
Being able to recognize hazing and speak up about it is the best way to make a difference and save students’ lives. A common misconception people have about hazing is that the victim always shares in the blame, either because they volunteered or they “allowed” it to happen. If a student is a victim of hazing or is around someone they feel is being hazed, that student should take the matter to authorities. HazingPrevention.org honors courageous students who speak out against hazing with the Hank Nuwer Anti-Hazing Hero Award.
“I witnessed two very public initiations of a University of Nevada athletic fraternal group as a bystander. I was a former graduate student body president and knew these athletes. They did a third initiation that I did not witness, and it killed Wolfpack football player John Davies and gave another pledge brain damage. That’s when I began writing about groupthink and bystander intervention.” - Hank Nuwer
IT’S NOT JUST IN COLLEGE
According to a national study on student hazing, 55% of college students involved in student-led organizations experience hazing, and about 1.5 million high school students are hazed each year.
82%of deaths from hazing