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Published On: Tue, Aug 30th, 2022

What is Hazing and Why Should Students Fight Against It?

Hazing is often categorized as bullying, which isn’t far off the mark. However, it is more specific in its definition. Hazing is the action of encouraging, asking, coercing, and/or expecting someone to join a group or be promoted to a higher status within the group’s hierarchy, only after conducting and/or being involved in one or more activities that may result in humiliation, degradation, physical harm, and/or psychological harm.

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Is Hazing Illegal?

Yes, hazing as defined above is illegal and it remains illegal even if the concerned acts:

  • Are conducted voluntarily and without coercion by the individuals being hazed.
  • Are physically and/or psychologically harmful only to the willing volunteers.
  • Did not lead to any noticeable harm to any party but had/has the potential to cause harm.

Contrary to popular belief, it is quite possible to take legal action against hazing at any level because it is classified as a jailable criminal offense in the United States. To know more about the governing laws, who should be sued, and how one is supposed to proceed with filing the lawsuit, talk to an experienced lawyer like Romanucci & Blandin.

Who is At Risk of being Hazed?

Any student who wishes to join a group of some kind could be at risk of being hazed. Such groups include, but are not limited to:

  • Fraternities and sororities.
  • Sports and athletics teams.
  • Academic clubs of any kind.

Hazing in both its practice and legal definition is not restricted to schools and colleges. One may cite academic establishments as the most common sites of hazing, but such behavior is not just limited to teenagers, unfortunately. Adults are often involved in hazing a younger student, while private clubs, groups, close-knit communities, and even one’s own family might consider such act(s) to be a rite of passage.

What are the Effects of Hazing?

There are several reasons why students, teachers, and parents should unite against hazing and most of them have to do with the after-effects. The after-effects will vary in both type and intensity, based on who was being hazed and how. Nevertheless, some of the most common negative impacts of hazing include:

  • Immediate and/or long-term physical injury.
  • Immediate and long-term psychological damage: Anxiety, depression, PTSD, anger management issues, and much more.
  • Loss of self-confidence, poor development of social skills, and failure to succeed.
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
  • Although rare, hazing can even be a direct cause of death.

To attach interest to an act of degradation, public humiliation, violence, unnecessary risk-taking, deception, etc. is not just morally offensive, but it’s also illegal by definition. Therefore, hazing should never be condoned under any circumstances. Unfortunately, students being hazed do not always have a choice because they are not always given one, which is just one more reason why an act of hazing should not be allowed to go unpunished.

The notion that certain illegal acts are acceptable just because it’s being conducted in the name of a group or personal interest is twisted logic. Even if the hazing does not involve self-harm of any kind, impressionable youths who commit harmful acts on others during hazing may develop more violent tendencies down the line.

Author: Carol Trehearn

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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