What Is Hazing?

Hazing is any reckless or intentional conduct in connection with the initiation into, or affiliation with, any organization which degrades, humiliates or endangers the mental or physical health of any person, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. It can also include activities that damage, destroy or remove any public or private property.  Hazing is a premeditated act of power and control over others and is considered victimization. It is abusive and often life-threatening. Soliciting, directing, aiding or otherwise participating, actively or passively, in such activities constitutes hazing. In addition, apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing is not a neutral act and is considered approval of the hazing behavior.

Hazing is a societal problem that is not limited to fraternities or sororities, but can occur in any organization. Over the past several years, hazing has become prevalent among high school students, athletic teams, the military, marching bands, honor societies, and other social and professional organizations.

Examples of Hazing

  • Forced or required participation in physical activities such as calisthenics, exercises, games or “make work” activity 
  • Forced consumption of food, alcohol, any liquid, illegal substances
  • Forced, required or condoned application of foreign substances to the body resulting in lewdness or a potential for ridicule or bodily harm (such as tattooing or branding)
  • Participation in activities that involve illegal acts such as “pledge ditches” and kidnappings, scavenger hunts and thefts
  • Creation of excessive fatigue and stress through deprivation of privacy or sufficient sleep (defined as a minimum of six consecutive hours per day) or decent and edible meals
  • Deprivation of access to means of maintaining personal hygiene
  • Forced or required conduct that would embarrass or negatively affect the dignity of the individual, such as forced nudity or partial nudity, including coercing or allowing an individual to dress in a degrading manner as part of initiation or affiliation with a group
  • Use of physical brutality (including paddling; striking with fists, feet, open hands or objects; and branding)
  • Participation in or creation of situations that cause psychological harm or substantial emotional strain, such as causing a member or pledge to be the object of malicious amusement or ridicule or other verbal abuse, causing embarrassment or shame to a member or pledge, or compromising the dignity of a member or pledge.
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