What are the “side effects” of hazing in the K-12 environment?

Posted by Ronald | January 13, 2012  |  24 Comments

Many physicians are very meticulous when prescribing the appropriate medicine for their patients and letting them know how often to take the medicine including the time of the day. For certain prescriptions, doctors inform the patients of the side effects to avoid any foreseeable health risk or harm to the bodies. Individuals with high cholesterol are usually prescribed medicine called statins.  Three of the widely used statins are Lipitor, Pravachol and Crestor.  While these drugs are very effective in lowering cholesterol, they have common side effects such as headaches, muscle weakness and abdominal pain.  Just this week, the Journal of American Medical Association shared a study indicating that older women taking these drugs face a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than women who do not take the popular statin drugs.

So the questions to be asked are: What are the “side effects” of hazing in the K-12 environment? What is the culture of hazing in the K-12 environment? How will a curriculum model be developed to prevent hazing in the K-12 environment?

Hazing is “any activity expected of someone to join a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers regardless of the person’s willingness to participate” in the activity. In the K-12 environment, hazing is known to be prevalent in high school and before students become teenagers. According to a national study conducted by Alfred University, the “side effects” of hazing may affect students emotionally and physically resulting in their getting injured, participating in fights, performing poorly in class, losing concentration, feeling upset, committing suicide, harming other people and being convicted of a crime.

Similar to the college level, secondary students become acclimated to the culture of their environments and believe the myths that hazing is fun and harmless. In addition to a national study conducted by Alfred University of 1500 students from a random sample of 20,000 high schools, 48 percent reported being hazed, 30 percent participated in potential illegal acts and 25 percent noted being hazed before the age of 13. Moreover, students reported participating in hazing because it enabled them to feel closer as a group, provided approval by their peers and afforded an opportunity for revenge. Some students indicated that they took part in hazing rituals because they were uneducated, pressured and influenced by the culture of the environment including the convictions of adults.

In the K-12 environment, students have the propensity to want to belong and be accepted socially among their peers. Joining teams, groups and organizations provide an opportunity for students to meet their basic needs to belong. Without proper supervision and guidance, students willingly or unwillingly may do just about anything to gain membership into an organization. For example, a high school senior might demand, coerce or influence a high school freshman to participate in some type of initiation in order to become an official member of the team. Depending on the tradition of the school environment, the freshman’s only choice may be to comply with the directives of the senior and suffer the consequences that go along with the tradition.

While the college and university settings are getting more attention regarding hazing, it is clear that hazing is prevalent in the high school environment.  Hazing can occur within sports team(s), the yearbook staff, performing arts or ROTC.  According to a study conducted at the University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development, 47 percent of university students reported being hazed while in high school. Hazing in these environments includes such things as excessive drinking, being verbally abused, having to get a tattoo or piercing the body.  Some educators are seeing trends that hazing is becoming more sexual which may include things such as undressing in front of others or being asked to simulate a sexual act in order to join the group.

As a part of the National Anti-Hazing/Violence Taskforce to be launched on Tuesday, Jan. 17, in Washington, D.C., The Holmes Education Post, LLC through the leadership of the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., will develop a curriculum model to prevent hazing/violence in the K-12 environment. This model will be developed by (1) doing extensive research and benchmarking best practices of school districts nationwide with research-oriented anti-hazing prevention programs for constituents of all levels (students, teachers, parents, etc.) of the K-12 environment, by (2) writing monthly articles on the research findings of anti-hazing prevention programs with an evaluation tool to measure the effectiveness of the program and by (3) posting the articles in theholmeseducationpost.com and other news media.

Similar to how medical professionals inform their patients about the side effects of their medications, the school system must take proactive measures to prevent the culture of hazing in the K-12 environment. Specifically, the system must discourage “any activity expected of someone joining a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses or endangers regardless of the person’s willingness to participate” in the activity. For accountability, the system must implement a research-oriented anti-hazing/violence prevention program combined with a sound evaluation instrument to measure the effectiveness of the model.  Stay tuned!

Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of Education Questions to be Answered.  He is the President of The Holmes Education Post, an education focused internet newspaper. Holmes is the National Superintendent of Education for the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., a former teacher, school administrator, and district superintendent.


Categories : K – 12 Schools


  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

    • Ronald says:

      Thanks for surfing around the posts…

      • Moh says:

        This is deeinitfly a great article. From a non-Greek letter organization member, I appreciate that you recognize not only the benefits of purpose-driven hazing, but the negative aspects of foolish, vengeful, and vindictive hazing. If I had three thumbs, this article would get all of them *up*!

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