High school hazing is a complex issue. Some people see it as nothing more than a high-spirited set of rituals designed to bond a group and enforce a hierarchy. The mentality is roughly that if you can survive all this together, then you'll be a part of the pack.
You can only survive if you follow the leaders. Others think of hazing as a much more dangerous phenomenon. They recall horror stories about pranks gone wrong or children whose alienation leads to their deaths of those of other children. No matter what you think about the issue of hazing however, it is important that you be aware of it and how it might be affecting your child.
Though many people defend hazing rituals as valuable traditions, hazing is actually a practice that is designed to enforce the power of the group over chosen victims. It is therefore illegal in forty-two of the states. In addition, most colleges have instituted anti hazing policies and rules to govern the practice and prevent it. Despite the attempts to end hazing practices by making it clear how unacceptable they are, hazing continues to occur in our society.
It continues to be excused by both observers and participants. High schools are a common site for hazing, particularly in the athletic teams and in other activity related clubs and groups. The practice is particularly dangerous at this age because of the fragility of the developing adolescent. Your child's much needed self respect is truly under threat by hazing behavior. The effects can be powerful and far reaching whether they are the victim or a participant.
It is important to be concerned about hazing and take a strong offensive position against the practice. Hazing is such an entrenched part of the culture, and one that is reinforced by mass media as well as other adult role models that you need to take a stand as soon as the issue raises its head. Begin by discovering the school's position on the matter. Some schools have taken the first necessary step and have anti hazing policies in place to protect their students. Alone these policies may not do much.
You will need to find out if they are enforced. If you think your child is the victim of hazing behaviors, then bring the matter to the attention of the school. You should also be aware of the law in your state. That way, if you encounter resistance to your attempts to shut hazing down, you can use the law to provide your efforts with the support you need.
Remember that the practice is illegal in most states. In addition, there are many states that make civil suits regarding hazing possible. You can use this information as ammunition in the fight. The most important thing you can do, however, is to stand up for your child and any other who might be a victim of hazing. Let the world know that hazing is not okay and that you will fight to stop it.