Students sometimes have difficulty understanding hazing, citing the vagueness of the hazing definition. Being able to identify hazing is an important step in eliminating it. Hazing falls into three major categories: subtle hazing, harassment hazing, and violent hazing. Remember that hazing at any level has the capacity to inflict mental and physical harm on its target.
Subtle hazing emphasizes the power differential between new members and existing members. This type of hazing is more mental than physical, thus it is falsely viewed as harmless by members of many groups. Subtle hazing goes against standards of mutual respect and can result in the ridicule, embarrassment, and humiliation of new members.
- Deprivation of privileges granted to existing members
- Requiring new members to perform duties not required of existing members
- Expecting certain items to always be in one’s possession
- Quizzing/drills on meaningless information
- Socially isolating new members
Harassment hazing includes behaviors that cause emotional or physical stress. It creates situations that confuse and frustrate new members.
- Verbal abuse
- Threats or implied threats
- Sleep deprivation
- Stunt/skit nights with degrading, cruel, or humiliating acts
- Expecting new members to do chores or personal favors for existing members
Violent hazing includes activities with the potential to cause physical, emotional, or psychological harm to new members.
Did you know…
82% of hazing deaths involve alcohol!
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Paddling or other forms of assault
- Public nudity
- Expecting illegal activity
- Abductions or kidnaps
- Water intoxication
Be aware that these lists are not all-inclusive. Many hazing incidents depend on the context of the hazing, not only on the act itself. For instance, conducting an activity late at night in which new members are chastised for failure and there is no opportunity for debriefing creates an atmosphere conducive to hazing. To reduce hazing, organizations should conduct new member activities in an open, safe environment.
More Ways to Identify Hazing
The following are key identifiers that hazing is taking place:
- The activity is degrading and/or demeaning
- Alcohol is involved
- Active and new members are unwilling to discuss the activity with advisors, parents, headquarters, or prospective members
- Active members would be unwilling to participate with the new members and engage in the same activities
- There is risk of injury or question of safety
Adapted from the website stophazing.org