May 23, 2022 • 5 min read
Although it is most commonly associated with college fraternities and sororities, hazing can happen in any type of organized group, at any age. Coaches and parents can begin heading off hazing early by starting the conversation sooner rather than later with your child or athletes. It is important to know what hazing is, how it relates to bullying, and how to identify hazing in a group. Here are several common questions answered for you to help prevent hazing on your youth sports team.
What is hazing?
Hazing is harassment, abuse, or humiliation as a way of initiating a person into a group. Established members of the group force new members to go through rituals in order to become accepted into the group. It may be easy to identify hazing practices that cause pain and physical discomfort. However, more subtle hazing practices that lead to emotional pain and suffering may not be so easy to see.
How does hazing relate to bullying?
Hazing is not bullying, but it leaves similar emotional and psychological scars. Bullying is an act of aggression by an individual or or group with the goal of intentionally hurting the victim in some way. Hazing often hurts the target too, but harm isn’t the main purpose. The goal of hazing is to initiate the target into an exclusive group. Hazing is a ritual with the belief that it will bring the members closer together. This is contrary to bullying, which is designed to keep the victim out of the group. Bullying is about ostracizing people and excluding them in some way.
Hazing occurs in almost every kind of group, from sports teams to cheerleading, from band to theater, from service and religious organizations to honor societies. Hazing is most commonly associated with fraternities, sororities and athletic teams. The people hazing others are all part of the same group and justify their actions by calling it a ritual or a tradition. For many, though, hazing is nothing more than an organized form of bullying.
How do you recognize the signs of hazing?
Hazing can take many different forms. The most common ways in which people haze others is by:
How do you openly discuss hazing and how to prevent it?
There is no denying that hazing is dangerous both physically and emotionally. Here are four ways parents and coaches can openly discuss hazing on your sports teams.
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