Preventing Hazing

February 8, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 6
Can tougher laws stop violent rituals?
By David Hosansky


Robert Champion, a drum major in the Florida A&M marching band (AP Photo/The Tampa Tribune/Joseph Brown III)
Robert Champion, a drum major in the Florida A&M marching band, died after a brutal beating during a hazing ritual aboard a band bus in November 2011. Ten band members face felony charges and up to six years in prison; two others have pleaded no contest. (AP Photo/The Tampa Tribune/Joseph Brown III)

School groups, sports teams and other organizations often initiate members by requiring participation in degrading or violent rituals. Hazing can escalate from silliness to cruelty, sometimes causing emotional scars or even death. Experts say hazing is becoming increasingly brutal and sexual in nature, even at middle schools. Last December, Northern Illinois University fraternity members were charged in the hazing of a freshman who died after a night of extreme drinking. In 2011 a Florida A&M University drum major was beaten to death by fellow African-American band members, sparking concerns about the nature of hazing at mostly black institutions. In Afghanistan two U.S. servicemen committed suicide in 2011 after being abused, sparking congressional condemnation and pledges by military brass to crack down on hazing. Some argue hazing can build character and camaraderie, but critics advocate stronger enforcement, coupled with education, to curb it.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Violence in America
Apr. 29, 2022  Political Violence
Jun. 01, 2018  Gang Violence
Oct. 09, 2015  Fighting Gangs
Feb. 14, 2014  Media Violence
Nov. 15, 2013  Domestic Violence
Feb. 08, 2013  Preventing Hazing
Jan. 06, 2006  Domestic Violence
Oct. 31, 2003  Serial Killers
Sep. 03, 1993  Suburban Violence
Apr. 27, 1979  Violence in the Family
Jun. 05, 1968  Violence in American Life
Students and Social Life