The Dangers of Hazing Among Young People
Hazing has always been around. It’s a worldwide practice among young people when receiving new group members. Its goal is almost always to “mock” or poke fun at the expense of another person. Unfortunately, the dangers of hazing is that the more humiliating, violent, and risky it is, the better.
Hazing, a need for acceptance and belonging
Hazing is a group phenomenon, an initiation ritual that generally takes place when we go to college. Nonetheless, it’s also common to do this in other school contexts, in the military field, in residential colleges, or in some fraternities.
The ultimate goal of initiation practices or rituals is to make a “toll payment” to those who want to be part of a group and have acceptance. This toll involves various tests that are decided by members who already belong to the group. They vary from subjecting the new member to hard physical tests, such as having them stroll naked through a public place, showering in cold water in winter, or receiving a good beating.
In the adolescent stage, young people need to feel accepted by their peer groups and, on occasion, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to be recognized and included in the group. The greater the need for acceptance, the greater the amount of hazing a person may be willing to take; even when it turns out to be excessive and with serious consequences, both physically and psychologically.
Additionally, alcohol intake is a common denominator in many hazing rituals. This is a factor that can lead to something truly dangerous; even more so than any other type of hazing, no matter how innocent it may seem. This is because, when people consume alcohol irresponsibly, they have a greater tendency to lose their sense of risk and danger.
Actions to avoid the dangers of hazing
To avoid the dangers of hazing, both in the family and in a school institution, it would be ideal to develop actions such as:
- Workshops or presentations about the importance of coexistence, tolerance, and mutual respect. It’s crucial to highlight the dangers of hazing as a form of abuse and mistreatment with important physical and psychological consequences. This includes both people who go through situations of abuse and also the ones responsible; who can suffer, in some cases, from psychological and legal consequences.
- Establishing the appropriate channels of help, information, and psychological containment in order to denounce hazing. That is, those who are subjected to these types of tests or are witnesses to them can talk about it and report these situations. In this field, there are associations such as HazingPrevention.org, which combine efforts and means to eradicate hazing and rites of initiation.
Hazing as a form of welcoming rather than attack
As we’ve said, both parents and educators must develop actions to make young people aware of the dangers of hazing. To do this, it’s important to be empathetic and put yourself in the other person’s shoes, considering that:
- Hazing should be a way to welcome people and make them feel good, in any social context.
- If we consider it a ritual of initiation, hazing should be the beginning of a new stage; the gateway to new social, work, training, or leisure opportunities.
- You have to think before doing something. To avoid the dangers of hazing, we must teach young people to think before coming up with new ideas and to consider that “we should treat others the same way we’d like others to treat us.”