Hazing is a unique form of bullying that doesn’t just hurt someone but makes them feel like they need to go through that pain and suffering in order to become one of the group. There is, of course, no guarantee that suffering through the hazing will get you into the “inner circle” either, and in many cases, groups use hazing as a way to re-establish their “elite” nature and sense of superiority.
Hazing is never okay, and when it reaches the severity of outright humiliating, degrading, or even abusing another person, it becomes a crime. Hazing can take many forms, including but not limited to:
- Forced alcohol consumption or drug use
- Physical abuse or assault
- Sexual assault or harassment
- Sleep deprivation or excessive work assignments
- Public humiliation or embarrassment
- Withholding food or water
Hazing is a serious problem, and it isn’t just university campuses that need to address it. Sports leagues, workplaces, and clubs of any kind can all participate in hazing. Victims of hazing often experience long-term psychological trauma, physical harm, and in some cases, death. In addition to the damage caused to individuals, hazing also tarnishes the reputation of the organization and can lead to legal action.
How to Protect Yourself Against Hazing
If you are joining a new organization, it is essential to be aware of the possibility of hazing and take steps to protect yourself:
· Report Instances of Hazing When You See It
If you witness harassment, it is essential to speak up and report it to the appropriate authorities. This may include the organization’s leadership, your school or university, or the police. Try to obtain evidence of it if you can so that you and the victim can help put an end to the hazing once and for all.
· Don’t Be Afraid to Sue
If you are a victim of harassment, then you deserve to pursue every legal avenue available to you. This can start with a police report, but know it can go further, especially if the perpetrators received nothing more than a slap on the wrist. For example, though you may not get much in a criminal court, you could have a go pursuing a sexual hazing lawsuit. Such a lawsuit can not only help you get the justice you deserve, but it can also help you get compensation for your pain and suffering.
How to Stop Hazing in Your Organization
Hazing is serious, and it starts young. In high school students, for example, around 48% of students experienced hazing, with almost half of those students subjected to humiliation. A third, however, committed crimes as part of their “initiation”. The trends continue through to college, and yes, in private clubs and even the workplace. An anti-hazing policy must be in place alongside a cultural shift if we are to see an end to hazing outright – and you can start in your own organization by working through any loopholes in the anti-harassment policy and even speaking up or helping those who have been harmed, assaulted, or degraded as part of their “hazing initiation” get the justice they deserve. After all, the victims of hazing can have nothing to do with the organization and instead, be picked as a victim.