The following resource was originally written by Michelle Chaney, M.D., MScPH for The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at The Massachusetts General Hospital.
Despite the illegalization of hazing in 44 states and the implementation of anti-hazing efforts on school campuses across the U.S., these high risk and oftentimes life-threatening practices continue not only in Greek life and among various sports teams, but also in marching bands, military groups and even honor societies. Students commonly perceive these initiation rituals as harmless fun and group-bonding exercises; however, they can progress to downright dangerous behaviors that may even result in fatalities—as in the case of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion, Jr., who died following a beating by fellow band members during a hazing ritual in 2011.
This tragic death has brought the topic of hazing back into the spotlight recently, as former Florida A&M band member Dante Martin has since been sentenced to more than six years in prison for manslaughter and felony hazing, the longest sentence ever in a collegiate hazing death. He was one of fifteen individuals charged, but the only to receive prison time thus far.
Seven students from Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey also made headlines when they were charged with sex crimes in a football hazing investigation: four freshmen members of the football team were allegedly held against their will, while the upperclassmen defendants improperly touched them in a sexual manner. The seven students have been suspended, and the football season cancelled.
You may be asking at this point: What actually is hazing?