How Can I Protect My Child From College Hazing?

August 4, 2017

On top of worrying about a child leaving home for the first time, living on his/her own, and doing well in school, parents must also think about the possibility of hazing. “Hazing” refers to a group or individual forcing new inductees into strenuous and often humiliating tasks as a way of initiation. The rituals of campus hazing can be dangerous and even deadly. Since 1970, at least one death has occurred on a college campus every year due to hazing. It is your duty as a parent to try to protect your child from hazing during entrance into a sorority, fraternity, or other college organization.

Be Aware of the Risks of Hazing

Despite hazing being illegal in 44 states, and campus officials starting anti-hazing initiatives, this practice still occurs on almost every college campus around the country. Studies show that about 95% of students who experience hazing don’t report it. As a parent, the first step in preventing hazing is being aware of it on your child’s campus. Talk to campus officials about your concerns and learn the school’s hazing rules, if any.
Hazing can occur not only for sports teams and sororities/fraternities, but also for induction into honors societies, military groups, and marching bands. Research the college’s history of hazing and any news reports concerning the school. Social media is a great place to find out about hazing, as many students post photos of these rituals. The more you know about the occurrence of hazing on the campus, the better equipped you’ll be to prevent it.

Spot the Occurrence of Hazing

Hazing can look different depending on the types of rituals the organization puts its inductees through. Keep an eye out for a few common signs of hazing to catch it in your child’s life early. Though it can be difficult to identify hazing if your child lives on campus or outside of the home, conversations with your teen may lead you to the truth if you know what to look for. Unexplained injuries, grades slipping in school, or sudden feelings of depression, fear, or anxiety or all potential signs of hazing on campus.

Educate Your Teen

If your child is planning on joining any type of school-related organization, warn him or her about the dangers of hazing. Make sure your teen knows that people have gotten seriously injured and even killed during hazing rituals. Tell your child to be afraid of participating in hazing, not of telling school authorities about the experience. In many cases, teens don’t realize they’re going through hazing. Teach your child to identify hazing when it occurs by asking a few simple questions.
If a teen is afraid to tell parents, new members of the group, newspaper reporters, or administrators about what’s going on, it’s most likely a case of hazing. If the activity puts new members at risk of physical or emotional trauma, such as instances of abuse, it’s hazing. Let your teen know that these are signs that something is amiss and that he or she should tell the authorities. It’s up to your child to be proactive about his or her safety from hazing rituals. Your teen should feel confident in reporting hazing to campus officials – before someone gets hurt.