All You Need To Know About Hazing
Hazing is a form of interpersonal violence rooted by power and control. It is often normalized as just a “harmless prank” despite having adverse effects.
Hazing occurs when an individual is expected to ‘earn’ their membership, maintain their membership to a particular group to demonstrate their commitment. This involves being subjected to activities that are humiliating, traumatizing, dangerous or abusive etc. regardless of whether the individual wants to participate or not. The act includes but is not limited to any brutality of a physical nature, physical activity that would subject the individual to physical harm or mental stress.
Bullying and hazing are often considered the same. To sum it up,
Bullying is intended to harm and exclude whereas, Hazing is intended to harm and include.
Hazers exploit our desire for inclusion and belonging by using their power as gatekeepers over those seeking membership.
Herein, bullying is about exclusion and hazing is about inclusion.
Hazing can take place in any social setting where power dynamics and status structures exist among members and those seeking to gain membership of the group, team or organisation. It has been reported that around 55% of college students involved in fraternities, sororities, clubs, athletic teams and other clubs/ organizations experience hazing.
How to identify Hazing
Below is a non-exhaustive list of the signs of hazing:
- Being kidnapped
- Sleep deprivation
- Being yelled at and humiliation
- Pressurised into engaging in degrading acts
- Activities intended to elicit mental distress
- Allowed to interact with certain people
- Left to endure severe weather conditions
- Personal servitude
- Challenged to complete impossible, dangerous, meaningless and risky tasks
- Being completely controlled
Harms of Hazing
According to an expert, Hank Nuwer, 82% of deaths from hazing involve alcohol. Hazing is often about power and control. Hazers have a need to feel powerful and in control. It hinders academic progress and excellence, destroys self-esteem and causes emotional strain and physical harm in most cases. It does nothing but builds animosity between people and does nothing to foster trust, unity or respect.
Physical harm: broken bones, alcohol poisoning, injuries etc. that may result in the victim becoming hospitalised.
Mental harm: humiliation, guilt, low self-esteem, shame, anxiety, depression, and other long-lasting psychological trauma that may lead to suicidality.
Previous experiences: if an individual is carrying the baggage of previous traumas like mental illnesses, scars of physical and/or mental, sexual abuse, the experience of being a victim of hazing, family history of alcoholism etc. then it can increase the individual’s susceptibility to serious repercussions if hazed.
Although there are no laws present to the take action and sentence the hazers, most schools and colleges have no-tolerance policies for bullying and hazing. If you or someone you know is being hazed, informing the administration or the parent organisation (if outside an educational institution). Disassociate with the group if it safe to so and if someone is seriously harmed, call emergency services immediately.
The lack of public awareness allows Hazing to go by unchecked. Adding to the aforementioned “misconceptions”, people often believe that the act facilitates bonding. There is an absence of hazing laws and appropriate sentencing for the hazers because the behaviour is minimised in the media and by powerful figures since it takes place in almost all social settings and workplaces. One class can break the “tradition” of hazing- it just takes some courage and integrity to do what is right.
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