As September approaches, youth are back to school. For some, they’re off to college. A time for growth, college facilitates opportunities to create a new identity and pursue new friendships. It’s an exciting time of discovery. But, there is one adverse tradition that continues to permeate college campuses everywhere: hazing.
Hazing is a group ritual that involves harassing and initiating potential and new members. In the setting of high school and college, hazing usually occurs within fraternities and sororities, sports teams, and performing arts groups. In wider society, it is not uncommon in gangs, the military, police departments, and even among religious groups.
Hazing differs from bullying because the victims almost always “see what’s coming.” Humiliating and sometimes violent or dangerous, victims possess a vague idea of what’s to come. The practice has become widespread and accepted as commonplace in many circles. Unlike bullying, visibility is low, and incidents are usually denied. Sworn to secrecy, victims sometimes fail to predict the extent of harm they may endure and “what’s coming” ends in injury…or death.