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What Who Where When Why

WHAT: The Basics


Hazing is a process, based on a tradition that is used by groups to discipline and to maintain a hierarchy (i.e., a pecking order). Regardless of consent, the rituals require individuals to engage in activities that are physically and psychologically stressful.

These activities can be humiliating, demeaning, intimidating, and exhausting, all of which results in physical and/or emotional discomfort. Hazing is about group dynamics and proving one's worthiness to become a member of the specific group.


Hazardous hazing occurs when the traditions or initiation rites skid out of control and cause significant and lasting physical and/or psychological damage. When hazardous hazing occurs everyone in the group, including the perpetrators, (those who planned and carried out the actions) bystanders (those who watched and did not actively participate) and victims, (those who were receiving the hazing) may be psychologically traumatized.

The families of those involved, coaches and other supervisors may also be traumatized; even if they were not present during the hazardous hazing.

Their trauma may be evident immediately, it may be delayed for months or years or even decades.


Bullying is an intentional act of aggression that is meant to harm a victim either physically or psychologically. Bullies usually operate alone or in small groups and choose to victimize individuals who they perceive as vulnerable. Victims attract bullies by their small stature, their younger age, or lower social status. Frequently there is only one specific victim who is often a scapegoat.

There are no traditions involved, nor are there authority figures or leaders.

The intent of the bully is to satisfy his own personal needs, such as obtaining money, lunch, homework or simply intimidating someone. Bullying has been observed in preschool children whereas hazing does not begin until middle or high school.


The blueprint of hazing states that the newcomer, or victim, is hazed. Once accepted by the group, the victim becomes a bystander, and watches as others get hazed. Eventually, the bystander achieves senior status and power, and becomes a perpetrator.

They do onto others what was done to them, and they feel as though they have the right and duty to pass on the tradition. High school students pack up this blueprint and stuff it into their backpack, in order to take their hazing experience with them to college, the military and the workplace. Each hazing brings with it the possibility of a new twist. Perpetrators want to leave their mark on the tradition, and therefore they may add or change the tradition, slightly.