Hazing has almost always been considered one of those rites of passage as kids grow up and turn into adults, but sometimes hazing goes too far. Sometimes strong hazing simply results in a bullying type of situation that affects someone’s self-esteem or confidence, but sometimes hazing goes too far and it results in a fatality.
There are no official statistics kept on hazing deaths by any governmental agency around the world.
In the United States, hazing deaths aren’t something that is a new issue. The first documented hazing death, in fact, happened in 1838 at Franklin Seminary. Just because hazing has been happening for over two hundred years, however, doesn’t make the practice right. Having a little fun is one thing, but hazing takes things too far.
- Hazing occurs because 6 out of 10 people believe that being able to tolerate psychological stress is important and another 32% of people believe that tolerating pain is an important life characteristic.
- Two thirds of people believe that humiliation is a significant part of any hazing incident.
- 36% of people stated that they would not tell or have not told anyone about an incident simply because there was no one to tell.
Is all hazing bad? Not necessarily. It is when the power and control of one person over another becomes demanding and authoritarian in a negative way that issues begin to occur. When demands for compliance begin to outweigh the need for personal safety and a person is faced with either total rejection for a refusal or potential acceptance for compliance, hazing can create a foundation where an accidental fatality may occur. That’s why it is important to recognize a dangerous situation and decide to stop – even if that means taking life in a different direction.
Why Does Hazing Occur?
- Students are more likely to be hazed if they know an adult within their family who was also hazed while growing up.
- 46% of students in high school and college believe that the most important component of hazing is to keep the code of silence.
- More than 250k students experience hazing every year because of their decision to join an athletic team.
- 40% of students admit to knowing about hazing activities, even though just 5% of college students admit to being hazed.
- Another 40% of students report that their coach or advisor was aware of hazing incidents that have occurred on campus.
- 1 out of every 5 college students says that they have witnessed coaches being involved in hazing incidents that have occurred.
- 10% of female athletes in college stated that their hazing involved being tattooed, branded or having their head forcibly shaved.
When adults who are supposed to be in a position of authority not only allow hazing to occur, but also participate in it, then the stakes are even higher. Where can a student turn when their coaches are involved in hazing them? The student is faced with a conundrum because reporting the incident could change the outcome of a scholarship, their class placement, or even create such an unbearable life that they are forced to leave school. This is why kids are saying that they have no one to tell in many instances when hazing occurs – the adults that they trust are also involved in the incidents.
Hazing is Something That Starts Early
- It is estimated that over 1.5 million high school students suffer from at least one hazing incident every single year.
- 30% of hazing incidents in high school involve potentially illegal actions, including the forced consumption of alcohol.
- Hazing in high school occurs to either gender equally.
- 8 out of 10 NCAA athletes report that they were hazed for the first time while attending high school.
- 25% of student athletes report that they were hazed for the first time before they reached the age of 13.
- 92% of high school students say that they will not report an incident of hazing if they happen to know that it has happened.
- 48% of high school students admit to participating in activities that would be considered hazing and nearly 30% of students report doing something potentially illegal to join a group, yet only 14% of students in high school admit to being hazed.
There almost seems to be a disconnect between what hazing is and what the “academic” version of hazing happens to be. Some activities seem to be blindly accepted because they are traditional, or because their parents did it, or the incident helps to fulfill some sort of quest toward adulthood. Low level incidents may not cause any physical or psychological harm over the long-term either, but that doesn’t make short-term harm acceptable. In almost any other circumstance, to deliberately cause harm to someone else would be considered a crime. In hazing, however, it is seen as something that must be endured.
Should Hazing Be Stopped Completely?
- 16% of high school students reported that hazing occurred just because they reached the right age to attend high school.
- 47% of students experience some form of defined hazing every year, yet only 8% of students actually recognize that hazing has happened.
- 80% of students who have been hazed in high school don’t believe that they were hazed.
- The most common form of hazing is for people to associate with a specific group and ignore other groups of people.
- 12% of high school students are forced to participate in drinking games. Another 11% were forced to drink large amounts of a non-alcoholic beverage.
Hazing might seem like something innocent, but there is nearly 200 years of history to prove that hazing deaths are a real risk. Any hazing incident can lead to an unintended fatality, whether it comes from an accident, an allergy exposure, or a sensitivity to alcohol. It is important to raise awareness about hazing so that the risks can be reduced. Tomorrow’s kids are the future and they deserve a chance to succeed.