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Hazing Defined

Hazing transpires and continues for a number of reasons. Analyzing these factors helps us to not only understand why hazing happens and persists, but also provides insight into how the problem of hazing can be stopped. There are roots for explanations of hazing in the fields of sociology, psychology and biology.
Furthermore, an evaluation of cultural factors supplies enlightenment into both why hazing occurs and also why it is allowed to resume. An examination of these causes can help us to discover how hazing can be prevented, how it can be dealt with once it begins to occur and more specifically, how it should be handled in different situations. In spite of the usefulness of such information, it is of no value if it falls on deaf ears. As such, a prime objective is to inform others of the anguish that hazing brings to the lives of its unfortunate victims. Upon the consideration of enumerable findings and incidents, this should not be that difficult. Future articles produced by the Hazing Prevention Center will attempt to analyze all of these issues. To start with, it is essential to first answer a much simpler question: what exactly is hazing?
A recent study showed that only 40 percent of students could properly define what hazing is. While definitions may vary, hazing is most frequently classified as “any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate”.
There are a few aspects of this description that are of special significance. First, it is imperative to point out that hazing does not have to be an act of physical violence. Just as often as not, hazing consists of non-physical degradation. Many people believe that since an action does not cause bodily injury, it is really not that bad. This line of thinking is highly flawed. To the contrary, mental and emotional attacks can commonly be even more devastating than physical damage. If we are trying to protect students from harm, it is crucial to guard them from psychological abuse as diligently as we do from physical violence.
The second piece of the definition worth pointing out is that an act is considered hazing independent of whether the victim is willing to participate. Making this distinction is not only important to understanding what constitutes hazing; doing so will also play a key role in the discontinuation of hazing. One reason hazing is commonly allowed to persist is that its victims frequently show minimal signs of resisting the action. This is because the main objective of victims while being hazed is usually to endure the punishment to prove their worth to the team or group. As a result, those being hazed will usually appear willing to participate. Instead of being a reason for allowing hazing to continue, this is actually further support for the prevention of hazing. It shows that hazing creates challenging circumstances in which people permit themselves to suffer for what they believe will ultimately result in a greater good. With hazing abolished, such agony would not have to be endured for futile reasoning.
Indeed, studies reveal that hazing is ineffective at accomplishing its goals. One of the most widely held misconceptions of hazing is the belief that it can actually develop better teams by building cohesion among members. Research shows that for this reason most of those being hazed are willing to put up with it, rather than exposing the offenders or simply distancing themselves from the situation. One count approximates that only 15 percent of those hazed considered informing anyone, while 96 percent of athletes being hazed do not even consider quitting a team just because of the hazing. If hazing were to be eliminated, students would not be forced into these difficult situations and the pain they result in. My next article will focus on not only how extensive hazing is, but also upon how poorly it’s understood.

– Rocco Zambito, Jr.
Student President

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