Hazing is when a group of people impose strenuous and dangerous tasks on an individual as part of an initiation to a group. Hazing is demeaning and in some cases can be life-threatening. Know the facts about high school hazing practices can help prevent this dangerous activity.
When it comes to hazing, most people think about college fraternities who undertake dangerous or risky behavior to “test” and initiate new members. The truth is, many young people have experienced hazing, but did not recognize it or the dangers of participating.
Hazing is dangerous at any age. But hazing in high school can be particularly harmful to the developing brains of teenagers. Hazing in high-school is more common than ever before as students join clubs, teams or simply try to fit in. High school hazing can even include dangerous levels of alcohol or drug use. Some believe this to be a bonding activity, while others consider it a rite of passage. In reality, it is dangerous, often unsupervised and not condoned by school officials.
High School Hazing Statistics
Surprisingly, 8 out of 10 high school students and 9 out of 10 college students did not even identify their experiences as hazing. Of those who did recognize the situation as hazing, only 5% of respondents felt comfortable reporting it.1
Hazing impacts every single type of student group. One study found that up to 24% of hazing in high-school even occurred in church-related groups. Hazing is not necessarily innocent behavior. The more violent or socially humiliating hazing is, the more likely the student is to experience higher anxiety, greater social isolation, and emotional difficulties that carry on to adulthood.2
Athletics Hazing Statistics
For many student athletes or those entering college who plan to be part of Greek life, hazing is something to be expected. According to statistics from several hazing-prevention websites:3
• More than half of college students are involved in some form of campus hazing.
• In 95 percent of hazing cases where students were aware of what was happening, they did not report be hazed.
• For every 10 students being hazed, only 15 percent realize that’s what was happening.
• In more than half of the hazing incidents, a member of the offending group posted pictures from the hazing on a public website.
• Students are more likely to be hazed if they know and adult who was hazed.
• 44 states currently have anti-hazing laws.
• Since 1970, there has been at least one hazing-related death on a college campus each year.
• 82 percent of hazing deaths involve alcohol.
The good news is that there are an increasing number of positive types of hazing on high school and college campuses, involving safe activities like challenge courses or team trips.
Stop Dangerous Hazing
Those who are concerned about hazing among young people can do something to help. The following are a few suggestions:
• Learn about and identify the signs and symptoms of hazing. Most students who are subjected to hazing will not report these activities for fear of retribution, isolation, or bullying. Look out for terms such as “initiation”, “hell week”, or even “help week”. Directly ask students who may be acting strangely, dressing strangely, or participating in unusual activities if they are doing so as a “rite of passage.”
• Understand that “fitting in” is an important part of being human. We all want to be part of a group, and this particularly applies to teenagers and young adults. You may experience resistance if you try to stop hazing behavior, but most schools and organizations do have an anonymous reporting system. If you suspect dangerous hazing, take time to make a call. It can’t hurt to initiate an investigation.
• If you see a student who may have participated in binge drinking, eating restriction, or another type of physically dangerous hazing behavior, seek treatment immediately. Many of these hazing behaviors are initiated under the misconception that every young person is 100% healthy. Even strong and agile athletes can have underlying heart conditions or undiagnosed ailments, such as diabetes, colitis, or blood clots, which makes many of these initiation rites potentially deadly.
• Binge drinking can become a silent killer for anyone, even physically-fit young people. Often, overdoses, binge drinking, or hidden health conditions may make a person appear sleepy, unusual, or out of character. Reporting these incidents may save a life.
Hazing can only become a thing of the past if community members work together. Through education and connection, hazing activities can be phased out and replaced by healthier community-building tactics.
If you are concerned about a teen in your life, we have a confidential helpline where experienced wellness professionals can talk with you. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 855-317-8377 now.
1 Chaney, Michelle, MD. "Hazing on School Campuses: What Parents and Students Need To Know." StopHazing. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2017.
2 Kathy, Caudill. “What is Hazing?” NFHS. N.p., 24 July 2014. Web. 30 June 2017.
3 "Stop Hazing at UMD." Hazing Statistics. University of Maryland., n.d. Web. 30 June 2017.