You Can Make a Change!
Eradicating hazing can seem like an overwhelming undertaking, but it’s important to remember that every individual can play an important role in making positive change. Consider the following (adapted from Berkowitz, 1994) steps as a guide for thinking about how you can help make change:
Help others to:
- Notice hazing.
- Interpret hazing as a problem.
- Recognize a responsibility to change it.
- Acquire the skills needed to take action.
- Take action!
According to this model, the most effective way to educate about hazing is to begin by drawing attention to hazing and helping others interpret hazing as a problem. Campus and school officials, and student leaders, can do this by publicizing hazing policies (or establishing policies when they don’t exist); providing information to students parents, staff, faculty and community members about how to identify hazing and where to report it; providing assurances of support for those who do report being hazed, establishing consequences for those who participate in hazing; and most importantly, developing incentives for the implementation of non-hazing group initiations and activities.
Remember the adage: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” It’s not difficult to become part of the solution. Begin by educating yourself and others about hazing. You might consider reading a book about hazing. Next, help to build awareness about hazing by talking with your friends, family and others about the issue. Help others to re-define hazing as a serious social problem—not simply harmless jokes, pranks and antics. Become a positive role model by talking with youth about hazing and making them aware of the potential problems. Inform yourself of the laws and policies related to hazing in your community and school/college/university. Identify others in your school or community who are also concerned about hazing—have a meeting—talk about what you can do as a team to prevent harmful hazing.
Common Barriers to Changing a Hazing Culture
In order to make meaningful change, it is important to identify the key barriers to change and work on dismantling these. Common barriers to eliminating hazing include:
- Denial of the problem
- Dismissing hazing as harmless
- Insufficient support for victims of hazing
- Cultural norms that promote acceptance of hazing as “normal”
Hazing is a complex social problem with no “easy answers.” Those of us who have worked with groups to transform a hazing culture know there are many challenges to making meaningful change. However, we must not forget that every individual has an important role to play in helping to solve the problem of hazing. Each individual action can make a difference. Together, we can continue to build awareness and develop effective intervention and prevention strategies to eliminate harmful hazing!
Do you have a success story to share? We’d like to hear it. Please send your hazing change-making story to firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Berkowitz, A. D. (Ed.). (1994). Men and rape: Theory, research and prevention programs in higher education. San Francisco : Jossey-Bass.