Many times, people believe that hazing is difficult to define. They think there is a lot of gray area. Here are some examples of hazing taken from StopHazing.org:

  • Branding
  • Public nudity
  • Perform sex acts
  • Simulate sex acts
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Personal servitude
  • Inflict violence on someone
  • Ingestion of vile substances
  • Be whipped, kicked, or beaten
  • Forced or coerced consumption of alcohol
  • Associate with certain people and not others
  • Forced or coerced shaving of heads or other body parts
  • Being yelled at or cursed at by other members of the team or group
  • Burning skin
  • Being paddled
  • Destroy or steal property
  • Wear embarrassing clothing
  • Sacrificing or injuring animals
  • Cheat or help others cheat on an exam
  • Make prank phone calls or harass others
  • Humiliating Kangaroo courts or mock trials
  • Lock-ups or being confined to small spaces
  • “Drop-offs” or “dumps” in unfamiliar locations
  • Being duct taped or some other physical restraints
  • Deprive self of regular hygiene practices (e.g., brushing teeth, bathing/showering)

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There really is a wide continuum of hazing behaviors from those that are kind of hidden or subtle, to those that are threatening, embarrassing or harassing and finally to those that are violent or dangerous. Particularly with the more hidden to subtle types of hazing, context is important. Remember the power and control dynamic.

To help you identify whether something is hazing or not, the following questions should be asked. If the answer to ANY of these questions is YES, it is very likely that the activity is hazing.

  • Would active, current members of the group refuse to participate in this activity with the new members and do exactly what they’re being asked to do?
  • Does the activity risk emotional or physical harm or abuse?
  • Would you object to the activity being photographed for the school newspaper or filmed by the local TV news crew?
  • Would I feel comfortable participating in this activity if my parents were watching?
  • Would we get in trouble if the Dean of Students walked by?
  • Am I being asked to keep these activities a secret?
  • Am I doing anything illegal?
  • Does participation violate my values or those of my organization?

Sources: HazingPrevention.org

Put another way, Will Keim makes the following statement regarding whether or not an activity is hazing:

1. If you have to ask if it’s hazing, it is. 2. If in doubt, call your advisor/coach/national office. If you won’t pick up the phone, you have your answer. Don’t B.S. yourself.’ 3. If you haze, you have low self-esteem. 4. If you allow hazing to occur, you are a ‘hazing enabler.’ 5. Failure to stop hazing will result in death…