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What is Hazing? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Nearly half of secondary students and even more college students are subjected to illegal hazing. In this lesson, we will examine types of hazing and identify examples of each.

Initiation Ceremonies

Imagine that someone you have always admired asks you to be in his or her social group, but first you have to prove your worthiness. As an adult, you may have developed the strength and independence to say, 'No,' to anything humiliating or dangerous no matter what the cost socially, but teenagers that just want to fit in are highly susceptible to hazing. Hazing occurs at the middle school, high school, and college levels. Sports teams, clubs, fraternities, sororities, military groups, and even honor societies have participated in hazing rituals. Let's learn more about hazing and look at some examples of the three types of hazing: subtle hazing, harassment hazing, and violent hazing.

Definition and Data

Data indicates that 47% of students are subjected to hazing before college and 60% of college students endure hazing. These are staggering numbers, but what exactly is hazing? Hazing is intentionally causing physical or emotional harm to a group of people through embarrassment, harassment, or violence. Hazing is used as part of an initiation into a group. For example, freshmen may be hazed by upper classmen on a sports team to become accepted members of the team. Hazing is against the law, yet it still occurs frequently as it is dismissed as a rite of passage.

Types of Hazing

Subtle hazing is frequently considered innocent because it is not as blatant as some of the other forms of harassment, yet the treatment of junior members of an organization by its senior members is disrespectful and embarrassing, nonetheless. Some examples of subtle hazing include the following: social seclusion, name-calling, or withholding privileges from new members.

Harassment hazing is more obvious as it creates anxiety and discomfort, either physically or emotionally, which students feel they must endure to be accepted. For example, requiring new members of a group to run errands for established members is a form of harassment. Other examples of harassment hazing include public humiliation and sleep deprivation.

Violent hazing is the most apparent form of hazing and the most likely to result in arrests, law suits, and/or expulsions. Violent hazing is done with the intent of inflicting psychological and/or physical harm on new members of a group. Violent hazing may include coercion to consume alcohol, drugs, or even disgusting food concoctions. Kidnapping, assault, or exposure to the elements are some other examples of violent hazing. It could also include public nudity, participation in illegal activity, or even branding.

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