Bullying to the Next Level

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

When many people hear the word “hazing,” their minds often go straight to the college fraternity scenario. However, just as bullies aren’t limited to elementary school playgrounds, hazing isn’t limited to the university setting. Hazing happens at many different ages, in many different venues. Although it can be mistaken for bullying, hazing and the behaviors associated with it are important to define and distinguish on their own.

Hazing is any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. According to, some examples of hazing include whipping or beating, branding, forced exercise, exposure to weather extremes, or forced consumption of food or drink, alcohol, drugs, or other substances.

Hazing can involve seemingly harmless activities, but such activities often set the stage for more risky and potentially dangerous behaviors. The risk level of hazing can quickly escalate and take participants by surprise. Often, youth are encouraged to commit vandalism or other crimes in order to be part of the group.
Hazing is different from bullying because activities that are considered hazing might not always involve repeated or aggressive behaviors and might be undertaken with positive intentions (such as fostering group unity) rather than to intentionally cause harm.

If you witness something that looks like hazing or hear about hazing in a church group, stop or report it immediately. Children and youth should not have to undergo hazing rituals just so they can feel accepted in a group.