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Hazing Myths and Facts

Facts

Fact #1:

82% of deaths from hazing involve alcohol, according to noted hazing expert Hank Nuwer

Fact #2:

Hazing is often about power and control. Hazers have a need to feel powerful and in control

Fact #3:

Just because a majority of the members of an organization are not involved in a hazing incident does not mean the organization is not responsible.

Fact #4:

Hazing is not just associated with athletes and Greek–letter organizations. It occurs across a wide spectrum of organizations including military units, performing arts groups, religious groups, and other types of clubs and organizations. Hazing occurs in high schools as well as on college campuses.

Fact #5:

You can never be sure you know the physical or mental background of an individual and what the effects of hazing for that person might be

Myths

Myth #1: Hazing builds unity.

Hazing may create unity among new members, but often there are costs as well. The effect of hazing on a group can be like the effect of a hurricane on a community: residents feel closer to each other afterward but some may be suffering. More often, Hazing builds animosity between people and does nothing to foster trust, unity or respect. It simply makes better hazers

Myth #2: The new members want to be hazed.

Occasionally there are new members who say they want to be hazed. But generally most do not want to be humiliated, intimidated, or physically abused. “Wanting” to be hazed usually means desiring an intense, challenging experience. It is not necessary to haze new members in order to challenge them

Myth #3: I went through it, so they should too - it's "tradition"!

“Tradition” does not justify subjecting new members to abuse. Traditions are created by groups, and groups hold the power to change or eliminate them. It only takes one year to break a hazing tradition. Remember that the founding members of organizations were not hazed. One class can break the "tradition" of hazing- it just takes some courage and integrity to do what is right.

Myth #4: I'll never get caught or turned in!

If you haze, there will be a time when even your friends will have to choose between you and their integrity and well-being. It is in their best interest to report the hazing, no matter who is involved. Also, someone may decide to come forward even after

college and you can still be held accountable.

Myth #5: If they agree, then we're not hazing.

In MA, consent of the victim can’t be used as a defense. This is because even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action, it may not be true consent because of peer pressure, intentional or unintentional threats, and the withholding of information about what will occur.

Myth #6: Hazing is the only method for holding new members accountable.

While holding new members accountable may be important, there are effective ways to do so without hazing. Effective parents, teachers, and bosses all know ways to hold others accountable without humiliating, degrading, or physically hurting them. These skills can be learned.

Myth #7: Hazing practices preserve the uniqueness and exclusiveness of the group.

Since hazing practices are secret, group members often don’t realize that their “unique” practices are typically variations on common themes: extensive memorization with verbal abuse for incorrect answers, sleep deprivation, servitude, kidnappings, drinking rituals, calisthenics, lineups, cleaning up messes, isolation of members, theft, impossible games, sexual embarrassment, inappropriate clothing, absurd scavenger hunts, unpalatable food, and physical violence

Myth #8: Hazing continues because everyone in the group supports it.

Many group members may not approve of hazing but go along with the activity because they mistakenly believe everyone else agrees with it. This “reign of error” helps to perpetuate hazing. The strongest supporters of hazing are often the most vocal and dominant members.

Myth #9: Hazing only “a little bit” is not really that bad.

While there are more and less severe forms of hazing, even low-level hazing crosses the line. Even a “little” hazing can have an unintended negative impact on new members. And if the action meets the definition of hazing, the group will get in trouble if caught.

Myth #10 : Enduring hazing is a sign of strength.

While it does take a certain strength to make it through hazing, many people submit to it because they desire acceptance by others, are afraid to resist, or feel a need to prove to themselves or others that they are worthy or tough enough (e.g., “a real man”). These motives reflect conformity, fear, and insecurity, which are not qualities typically associated with strength. In contrast, standing up to a group of abusive peers or breaking free from hazing takes courage. That’s real strength.

The following myths and realities were adapted in part from stophazing.org.

Myth: Hazing builds unity among new members.

Reality: Hazing may create unity among new members, but often there are costs as well. The effect of hazing on a group can be like the effect of a natural disaster on a community: residents feel closer to each other afterward but many are suffering. Would anyone suggest that it is good for a community to be hit by a natural disaster?

Myth: Hazing is the only method for holding new members accountable.

Reality: While holding new members accountable is important, there are effective ways to do so without hazing. Effective parents, teachers, and bosses all know ways to hold others accountable without humiliating, degrading or physically hurting them. Chapter officers can work with Fraternity and Sorority Programs staff and the volunteers and staff of their national organization to develop programs that hold new members accountable without hazing them.

Myth: Hazing is okay as long as it is not physically dangerous.

Reality: Mental hazing can be brutal and leave lasting psychological scars. Some hazing victims report that the mental hazing they endured was worse than being physically abused.

Myth: A little hazing should be okay, as long as there's no mean-spirited or injurious intent.

Reality: Regardless of intent, some group bonding activities designed to be "all in good fun" still may raise some serious safety concerns." For example, serious accidents have occurred during scavenger hunts. And when members are drunk, they sometimes subject the new members to more than they originally intended.

Myth: Hazing continues because everyone in the group supports it.

Reality: Many group members may not approve of hazing but go along with the activity because they mistakenly believe everyone else agrees with it. This "reign of error" helps to perpetuate hazing. The strongest supporters of hazing are often the most vocal and dominant members.

Myth: If someone agrees to participate in an activity, it can't be considered hazing.

Reality: In states that have laws against hazing, consent of the victim can't be used as a defense. This is because even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action, it may not be true consent because of peer pressure, intentional or unintentional threats, and the withholding of information about what will occur.

Myth: Since alumni and current members were hazed it is only fair that the new members go through it too.

Reality: "Tradition" does not justify subjecting new members to abuse. Traditions are created by groups, and groups hold the power to change or eliminate them. It only takes one year to break a hazing tradition. Remember that the founding members of organizations were not hazed.

Myth: Hazing practices preserve the uniqueness and exclusiveness of the group.

Reality: Since hazing practices are secret, group members often don't realize that their "unique" practices are typically variations on common themes: extensive memorization with verbal abuse for incorrect answers, sleep deprivation, servitude, kidnappings, drinking rituals, calisthenics, lineups, cleaning up messes, isolation of members, theft, impossible games, sexual embarrassment, inappropriate clothing, absurd scavenger hunts, unpalatable food, and physical violence.

Myth: Other groups on campus will not respect an organization that does not haze.

Reality: A positive, educational program will result in a better all-around organization and the ability to attract the best new members. Being able to recruit the best students will earn the respect of other groups.

Myth: Hazing only exists in fraternities and sororities.

Reality: Hazing incidents have occurred across the country in athletic teams, military units, performing arts groups, religious groups, and other types of clubs and organizations. Hazing occurs in high schools as well as on college campuses.

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