James Waller, News Correspondent
With National Hazing Prevention Week behind us, celebrated at JSU from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, it’s important to maintain continuous awareness of the danger hazing poses, both to communities and an individual, in order to spread resources and knowledge about the risks of hazing.
According to the 2019 College Edition of the Resource and Planning Guide to hazing prevention, distributed by hazingprevention.org, hazing is defined as “any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.” Hazing can result in both physical and psychological trauma.
Physical trauma resulting from hazing is quite common, though the public usually finds out only in severe and extreme cases, such as when hazing results in death. Hazing rituals can frequently result in traumatic injuries. According to statistics from Hank Nuwer, a journalist dedicated to fighting against hazing, at least one death from hazing has occurred each year from 1969 to 2017.
According to The Economist, one of the leading causes from hazing related deaths is alcohol poisoning through forced consumption of alcohol. Physical hazing also frequently involves sexual abuse, wherein victims of hazing are made to perform sexual acts on each other or for senior members of an organization, such as a sorority or fraternity.
Psychological trauma from hazing is harder to track. Shame, self-doubt and threat of being ostracized by peers complicit in hazing can cause victims of hazing to be unwilling to share their stories and the anguish they experience as a result of hazing. Statistics from insidehazing.com say that 9 out of 10 students who have experienced hazing behavior in college do not consider themselves to have been hazed.
The effects of hazing are no less real when they result in mental scars. Trauma of hazing can cause depression, suicide and lowered academic achievement. This may even cause victims to withdraw from other activities, not merely the activity around which the hazing is centered.
There are three steps to stopping hazing: recognition, preparation and action. Victims of hazing can be helped when onlookers recognize hazing as it happens around them, prepare to support and protect victims, and take action to institute policies that prevent, discourage and penalize hazing. Helpful statistics and guides for preventing hazing and supporting and protecting its victims can be found at insidehazing.org.
Students can report instances of hazing on campus through the JSU website by visiting http://www.jsu.edu/studentlife/greek/gamecocks-against-hazing.html and filling out a report.