Criminal Law

Crim. Law Journal Fall 2015, Vol. 15, Issue 4


By Lani L. Biafore, J.D., LL.M. *

What Is Hazing?

Hazing is a pervasive problem in today’s society. Some believe that it is limited to a small microcosm in society: the Fraternity World. That is simply not true. It is a total fallacy to believe that hazing is primarily a problem for fraternities and sororities. It is a problem as old as time due in part to human nature. Hazing involves one true axiom: the human desire to be included. "The desire to become accepted as part of a group is a powerful motivator that causes usually sane people to endure the unthinkable: beatings, eating foul substances and alcohol consumption at dangerous to fatal levels."1 Still, the best examples of hazing result from the antics of fraternity and sorority members on college campuses.2

Hazing is a societal problem. It exists in the elementary school systems, the higher educational systems, the social clubs, the workplaces, the retirement homes, and places of worship. Students, teachers, bandleaders, parents, clergy, attorneys, doctors, and business people all engage in forms of hazing. Hazing incidents have been documented in professional athletic teams, the military, religious organizations, as well as marching bands, professional schools, government employers, businesses, and other types of clubs and organizations. Reports of hazing activities in high schools are on the rise.3 Fifty-five (55%) percent of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience behavior that meets the various definitions of hazing. Hazing occurs in, but extends beyond, varsity athletics and Greek-letter organizations.4Greek-letter organizations are fraternities and sororities and professional societies that use traditional letters from the Greek alphabet for their names.

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