Hazing can occur within any student group or organization, so it is important to talk to your student about how to spot and prevent hazing. If hazing is happening, you might be the first person to notice it because you know your student best.
Watch for warning signs of hazing, which include:
- Drastic changes in communication
- Losing interest or becoming isolated from normal activities or other relationships
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits or changes in mood, including increased irritability or defensiveness
- A decline in academic performance
- In more serious cases of hazing, look for physical injuries, especially if your student cannot explain how the injuries occurred.
Communication is key. If you suspect your student is being hazed, talk to them from a place of openness and concern. Most victims of hazing don’t want to discuss the issue, so be persistent. Many hazing victims don’t even realize they are being hazed. Those who do are often in denial about it or will minimize what is happening to them. They are typically under a great deal pressure from the group or organization to be silent.
Remember that hazing is really about power and control. The desire to fit in is strong for many students. Some students will go to great lengths to gain acceptance. Individuals who engage in hazing know this and use it to their advantage to control those being hazed. Additionally, most people who engage in hazing were hazed themselves and are seeking to make the next generation of members "pay their dues". For this reason, even minor hazing must be addressed. When those actions go unchecked, they can lead to more serious and dangerous forms of hazing.
When talking with your student about hazing, ask about the following questions:
- Are you in the process of joining an organization? If so, which one?
- What kinds of activities do they ask you to do?
- How much time do you spend doing these activities and at what times of the day?
- Are you being forced to do anything that seems unreasonable?
- Are you being deprived of anything such as food or sleep?
- Is alcohol involved in any of these activities?
- How does the group have you learn more about their organization?
If you suspect your student is being hazed, please report the information immediately. When reporting hazing, please provide as much detailed information as possible. While you can report hazing anonymously, this makes it difficult for the university to take appropriate action. If there is an emergency or potential for immediate harm, please contact Public Safety at 478-445-4400 or call 911.
Reference: Lipkins, Susan. (2006). Preventing Hazing. Jossey Bass.