Hazing – an age-old practice of harassing, intimidating and even sometimes physically injuring recruits in the military, college fraternities and beyond – garnered nationwide attention more than a decade ago as people across the country rallied to bring it to an end.
Hazing is an attempt to initiate new members into a group, and the law hasn’t always been clear about whether people can consent to harmful physical contact.
Psychologists and sociologists often disagree with hazing, too, citing different reasons. Hazing has been part of society for millennia. There’s evidence of hazing predating the Middle Ages, where group leaders would force potential members to participate in a variety of activities designed to shame, embarrass or harm themselves.
Psychologists often cite a 1959 study that led researchers to observe that people who go through trouble or pain to reach a goal value it more highly than people who don’t. It may be a part of building solidarity within a community. Although there are other ways to build solidarity, hazing rituals seem to serve a specific purpose.
Sometimes it takes the form of simple, benign pranks, but it can turn deadly.
Hazing still happens, despite the fact that it’s against the law in most cases.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, more than 250 reported cases of death from hazing incidents occurred between 1950 and 2007.
Wisconsin’s hazing laws cover things such as forced activity, which refers to people engaging in acts that endanger another person’s health or safety. It can be a misdemeanor or a felony, and the laws are designed to protect students attending any school, college or university in the state.
What Do You Think?
Do you think hazing is harmless, or that it produces positive results? Are you on the other end of the spectrum, believing that all hazing is dangerous?