What is Hazing?
Hazing is something that some have heard of, but it remains a mystery to many. Hazing is the act of humiliating, degrading, or abusing a group of people or individuals in any way, often as an initiation into a group, team, etc. More often than not, the person on the receiving end of the hazing is not a willing participant. Greek life such as sororities and fraternities is most frequently heard about when it is taken too far, and someone gets seriously injured or dies. A Freshman at a University in Virginia recently passed away after an alleged hazing incident that involved the consumption of large amounts of alcohol.
These activities are more common than one might think, even at the high school level. As Greek life does not exist in high school, hazing tends to happen in other areas such as sports teams and social groups. Hazing is a humiliating and often dangerous act that has somehow found itself almost a rite of passage or tradition in some scenarios. In no way is this something that is okay to continue as it costs the lives of teens and young adults just trying to fit in.
Why Does Hazing Happen?
Hazing is something that is often seen as a tradition and initiation into a group of some sort. The high school setting can be used to see if an individual is "tough enough" to hang with the rest of the group. The real reason is to provide entertainment to the group at the expense of the individual or individuals trying to prove they have what it takes. Sometimes, the individual does not fit into any social group, and they will do anything to fit in and make some friends. These are the scenarios that are heard about on the news that results in death.
"Are these the kind of people I want to be around?" is the first question that should be asked to someone who finds themselves as part of a hazing ritual. In reality, hazing is a form of temporary bullying. Just because the first initiation is passed does not mean they will become friends or that there won't be more hazing incidents just like the first. Walking away from a group where hazing acts as an initiation sounds like the right decision.
Where Does Hazing Happen?
It frequently happens in sororities and fraternities in college but is also very prevalent in high school sports. Most frequently, male sports like football and wrestling but happens in female sports as well. There have even been cases of hazing reported in high school band and choir programs. It is performed as a rite of passage for incoming members, usually occurring annually at the beginning of a season. Even in high school, it can be where participants are forced to drink until they puke or collapse but can also be physical abuse such as a case in 2015 where incoming freshman on a New Jersey girls' soccer team had to crawl through garbage and eat expired food. It can also be a verbal form of abuse.
Realistically, hazing can happen in almost any high school setting where there is an entry into a group but most prevalently happens with high school sports teams. Many think that it only happens with high school football, but that is not the case, it happens in all sports and clubs with both genders. It is important for parents, children, and those supervising the groups to understand and be able to identify what hazing is and how to stop it.
How to Stop Hazing
The first step in putting a stop to hazing is to know what is going on and identify what it is in the first place. Ultimately, this is up to the coaches as parents are often not around during team practices and get-togethers. There are many instances where coaches knew about hazing happening in their team and did nothing, and in turn, were fired when it came to light. If a child makes a comment that sounds anything like hazing is happening within their team, it should be taken seriously.
The next step is to break down the idea that hazing is a tradition or rite of passage to gain a team entrance. It accomplishes nothing except degrade those who participate and can do lasting damage physically and mentally and in extreme cases take a life. It's no longer fun and games when someone is put in the hospital.
Finally, the children need to be shown that it is wrong and what it can cost. Explain to them what the potential consequences could be if something goes wrong and give examples of hazing in the past that has gone wrong. History can be a powerful teaching tool; however, teenagers never feel like it will happen to them and often lack the ability to think ahead about their actions.
Hazing is the act of degrading or humiliating someone, usually without the participant's willingness. It is often looked at as an initiation into a group or team. It is popular in the Greek community in colleges as part of the entrance into a sorority or fraternity but is nearly as prevalent in high school sports. There have been many reported cases in both male and female high school sports and clubs and social groups. It is seen as a tradition for new entrants into the group to show they have what it takes to be apart of the team.
The ability to identify what hazing looks like is the first step in putting a stop to it, and coaches are often the first line of defense. The "tradition" of hazing much be disassembled to show that it accomplishes nothing except possibly damaging those involved both physically and mentally. There are plenty of examples to show teens what the consequences can be even if the intent is not harmful. Often, young people cannot see what their actions could cause. The leaders in their lives should take the initiative to shut hazing down before another is hurt.
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