It is really important to speak with your student about hazing, because hazing can occur within any student group or organization.

While your student will undergo some transition once they start school, you still know your student best. Watch for warning signs of hazing, which include:

  • The pattern of communication with your student changes drastically.
  • Your student seems to close off or become isolated from normal activities.
  • Look for changes in sleeping or eating habits or changes in mood. People being hazed tend to be more angry and irritable.
  • Being hazed can be very time consuming or distracting, so another indicator is a drop in academic performance.
  • In more serious cases of hazing, look for physical ailments and poor explanations of how those injuries occurred. (Lipkins, Susan. Preventing Hazing; Jossey Bass; 2006)

Communication is key. If you suspect your student is being hazed, talk to them. Speak with them respectfully and out of concern. Most victims of hazing don’t want to discuss the issue, so be persistent. Additionally, many hazing victims don’t even realize they are being hazed and many that do realize they are being hazed are in denial about it. Additionally, there is typically a great deal of pressure from the group or organization for the individuals to be silent.

Remember that hazing is really about power and control. The desire to fit in is strong for many students. Some students may do anything to gain acceptance. Individuals who engage in hazing know this and use it to their advantage to control those being hazed. Additionally, most people who engage in hazing were hazed themselves and are seeking to outdo the group that hazed them. For this reason, even minor hazing must be addressed. If it goes unchecked, it will lead to more serious and dangerous forms of hazing.

When talking with your student about hazing, ask about the following things:

  • Are you currently in the process of joining an organization? If so, which one?
  • What kinds of activities do they ask you to do?
  • How much time do you spend doing these activities and at what times of the day?
  • Are you being forced to do anything unreasonable?
  • Are you being deprived of anything such as food, sleep?
  • Is alcohol involved in any of these activities?
  • How does the group have you learn more about their organization/team?

If you suspect your student is being hazed, please report the information immediately. When reporting hazing, please provide as much detailed information as possible. While you can report hazing anonymously, this really makes it difficult and sometime impossible for the university to take appropriate action against the individuals and/or organization. If there is an emergency or there is potential for immediate harm please call 911.