Hazing Myths & Facts

Often people believe that it is difficult to decide if something is hazing, or will advocate that hazing will help an organization be better.  We have included below some common myths and facts to help individuals understand the issue.

Myth #1: Hazing is a problem for fraternities and sororities primarily

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Fact: Hazing is a societal problem. Hazing incidents have been frequently documented in the military, athletic teams, marching bands, religious groups, professional schools and other types of clubs and/or organizations. Reports of hazing activities in high schools are on the rise.

Myth #2: Hazing is not more than foolish pranks that sometimes go awry

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Fact: Hazing is an act of power and control over others—it is victimization. Hazing is pre-meditated and NOT accidental. Hazing is abusive, degrading and often life-threatening.

Myth #3: As long as there’s no malicious intent, a little hazing should be OK

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Fact: Even if there’s no malicious “intent” safety may still be a factor in hazing activities that are considered to be “all in good fun.” Besides, what purpose do such activities serve in promoting the growth and development of group team members?

Myth #4: Hazing is an effective way to teach respect and develop discipline

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Fact: First of all, respect must be EARNED—not taught. Victims of hazing rarely report having respect for those who have hazed them. Just like other forms of victimization, hazing breeds mistrust, apathy, and alienation.

Myth #5: If someone agrees to participate in an activity, it can’t be considered hazing

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Fact: In states that have laws against hazing consent of the victim can’t be used as a defense in a civil suit. Even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action it may not be true consent when considering the peer pressure and desire to belong to the group.

Arizona is a state that has indicated that consent cannot be used in a defense.

Myth #6: It’s difficult to determine whether or not a certain activity is hazing—it’s such a gray area sometimes

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Fact: It’s not difficult to decide if an activity is hazing if you use common sense. If you can’t figure it out ask a University staff member.

Adapted from Death By Hazing
Sigma Alpha Epsilon. 1988.

Myth #7: Everyone already knows it is happening, so it must be fine

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Fact: University staff (and students) have an obligation to report and act on information regarding hazing. If no action has been taken, people do not know it is happening.

Myth #8: Everyone in the organization before me had to do the same thing, so it’s a tradition and I need to do it to be a real member

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Fact: The other members are probably lying to you. In hazing organizations the hazing will likely get more and more severe every year unless there is an intervention. The individuals before you probably didn’t have to do what you are doing.