Hazing at School: How to Address and Prevent It

Some experts consider hazing to be abuse. Therefore, it's important to know the facts in order to avoid these abusive practices that can cause serious problems for children and young people.
Hazing at School: How to Address and Prevent It

Last update: 30 November, 2020

Hazing at school has gone from being a rite of passage to a real nightmare for many children. For many young people, the problem is truly serious, especially when hazing becomes excessive, lasts over time, or causes various psychological disorders.

Let’s imagine the mind of a young person who arrives for the first time at elementary school, high school, or college. Logically, the student is nervous. Now, to that, add the fact that older students take every chance they can to throw them in the mud, to draw dirty messages on their face, or to provoke embarrassing situations.

What feelings and emotions do you think the child would experience in those moments?

Are there really any positive aspects in these situations, as some claim? Let’s see what the experts say and how we can act, both parents and students, in the face of hazing at school.

A child walking into a new school.


Hazing at school and its consequences

Professionals such as psychologist Loreto Gonzalez-Dopeso claim that hazing at school has negative consequences for children. In fact, this specialist is president of the No More Hazing Association in Spain and has become an active advocate against this behavior.

According to Gonzalez-Dopeso, hazing can be a kind of doorway that allows aggressors to abuse other children. However, at present, there’s little study on this subject.

The psychologist recalls that there’s only one rigorous study, called Novatadas, comprender para actuar (Hazing, understand in order to act). It was carried out in the heart of the University of Comillas, and states that perpetuating this ritual implies giving free rein to perverse consequences. What’s more, they can lead to extremely serious situations, such as abuse of power or bullying.

Today, the association that González-Dopeso directs is actively working on reducing these initiation rituals in the company of various universities. Together they’ve even managed to get many institutions to sign and adhere to the Manifesto of the Council of Universities of Spain to reduce this form of behavior that humiliates and mocks new students.

How to prevent hazing at school

According to the few studies that exist and the knowledge of professionals like González-Dopeso, hazing refers to mockery, humiliation, insult, and mistreatment of others.

In fact, they go further by stating that hazing violates the integrity and dignity of the most vulnerable. Therefore, we can’t tolerate these situations, especially within institutions that should stand out for their integrity, altruism, effort, solidarity and cultural concern.

Therefore, among the keys that professionals offer to put an end to this undesirable situation, we want to highlight the following:

Interpret hazing as a form of mistreatment

Children should never have to undergo this type of treatment. Rather, we must make it clear to them that it’s a form of abuse and encourage them to report it. It’s not fun nor is it a rite of passage.

Students should form a group

It’s more difficult for altercations to occur if incoming students move as a group and stand up for one another. In addition, it may be helpful for teachers or figures that the rest of the students respect to accompany newcomers.

Constant contact

It’s necessary to maintain frequent and direct contact with the family and with the student who suffers or may suffer from hazing. Knowing exactly what’s happening will make it easier to intervene appropriately.

Inform only if it’s safe

However, to avoid situations of constant abuse due to “snitch” type accusations, it’s important to provide students with safe channels through which to report abuse. It’s important for training centers, colleges, residences, etc. to provide this type of communication to new students.

A child who's sad because he's experienced hazing.


Get close to friends and acquaintances

Young newcomers will be safer and more relaxed alongside older students. If they have acquaintances or relatives at school, it’s a good idea for them to stick together.

Appropriate contacts at the center

Once a new student arrives at a school, for example, they have the option of contacting certain figures of interest. For example, the university lawyer. This individual can be very helpful in preventing hazing.

Watch out for dangerous substances

Finally, it can be dangerous for a new student to agree to undergo hazing practices that require drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and, in rare cases, even taking illegal substances. Therefore, it’s important not to accept this type of practice.

When the time comes, in order to avoid hazing at school, if necessary, one should contact law enforcement. In any case, it’s important that we all work together to keep these dangerous behaviors from affecting our young people.

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