What is Hazing, and Why is it Such a Problem?

You may have heard of the term hazing before, and you have probably seen examples of it in movies. It is where new members of a club or group are made to perform certain things, often involving humiliation, personal risk, or sexual acts, to be given entry into the group or a status as a full member.

In movies this is often played off as silly and benign, perhaps a little embarrassing for those being hazed, but nothing that would traumatize them, and it’s forgotten as soon as the scene is over. However, real life hazing is a crime, and people who have been through it often end up seeking compensation.

Here, we look at what hazing really is and why it’s a problem:

Where Does Hazing Take Place?

We most commonly think of hazing as something that happens in high school and college, and mainly among fraternities, sororities and sports teams. These are the most common places, but it can happen in adult groups too. Wherever there is a close-knit group that other people may want to join, it is possible there are some hurdles to becoming a member, and these may include hazing.

What Can Hazing Involve?

The spectrum of what can be included in hazing is huge, as it’s really down to whatever ideas the more senior group members have in mind, but the goal is that it will usually be unpleasant for the new member, to prove how much they want to join the group, and that it is also likely to be shameful or humiliating. The psychological reason for this is perhaps that if everyone in the group has at some point humiliated themselves in a way the rest of the group knows about, they share a strange kind of bond.

Hazing can include dangerous alcohol consumption, sexual acts, having to serve as a slave to a senior group member, public shaming, and in some cases even things like being branded. You can probably understand now why it is illegal and why someone who has had a bad experience might seek out a hazing lawyer and claim compensation for what they were forced to do.

Why is it Hard to Stop Hazing?

Hazing is a complex problem. Many groups who have always practiced it are reluctant to stop because it would mean new members wouldn’t have to go through what they did to join, which they see as unfair. Another problem is that people are often reluctant to complain or report it because they don’t want to turn the group against them after going through all of that to be a part of it. People can also be unwilling to discuss the humiliating things they did as part of hazing with police or lawyers, or to talk about them in court.

Hazing may be against the law, but it is certainly something that still happens, and which can be a lot more extreme than it is made out to be in the media.

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