In, form of fairly nonthreatening pranks to patterns

In, today’s society we continue to hear about the effects of hazing, bullying, and harassment among college students.  There are questions as whether there has been an increase in exposure or intensity in the recent years.  Although such topics has been a focus of research for years such victimization, and the negative consequences that are associated with such behaviors has been receiving more attention from the media and policy makers in the last couple years. Allan and Madden (2008) define hazing as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate. Hazing is classified differently than bullying, however, the same influences and dynamics are involved.  Although bullying involves repeated incidents of victimization, and hazing is a time-limited phenomenon, it only occurs while students are attempting to gain membership into the organization and it ceases once membership is obtained. Hazing can be seen throughout many different social facets, especially among college students and their initiations into different fraternities and sororities.  Many times the initiations can come in the form of fairly nonthreatening pranks to patterns of behaviors that lead to the level of abuse and criminal misconduct. In all cases hazing is prohibited by law and is prohibited by institutions and colleges because of the severe physical and psychological abuse that can occur. However, this does not stop college athletic teams, fraternities and sororities from having new recruits participate in what most call Hell Night or in prolonged circumstances Hell Week. In some incidents Hazing resembles what using to be called “fagging”, which was a traditional practice in British Boarding schools in the mid to late 1800’s (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2017). In similar cases young children were the servants to the older students within the boarding school, and what started as running errands and completing chores quickly turned into harassment, humiliation, and abuse. Although “fagging” was stopped in the late 1800’s throughout private schools in Britain, it still continued throughout different arenas and developing into something much more intense and cruel. In 2008 a study was completed by Mary Madden, PH.D., and Elizabeth Allen PH.D., called Hazing in View: College Students at Risk, at the time it was considered one of the most comprehensive pieces of literature on the subject. The authors felt that hazing was such an important topic to raise awareness around and that there was not enough research or literature on the subject that fully shed light on the negative consequences of hazing.  In their study they interviewed and surveyed over 11,000 undergraduate college students throughout the United States. Their findings were astounding; they reported that 55% of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations experience hazing. That hazing occurs in, but extends beyond, varsity athletics and Greek-letter organizations and includes behaviors that are abusive, dangerous, and potentially illegal. In a sample of college fraternity and sorority members, 53% of respondents reported being the victim of direct hazing-related behaviors such as participating in a drinking game; 31% reported singing or chanting in public in a situation not related to a game, event, or practice; 26% reported drinking alcohol to the point of getting sick or passing out; 16% reported associating with specific people and not others; 17% reported sleep-deprivation; and 18% reported being verbally aggressed by other members (Allan & Madden, 2012). Most concerning, the authors found that 10% of respondents reported “performing sex acts with the opposite gender,” and 9% reported “watching live sex acts “.  To many alcohol consumption, humiliation, isolation, sleep-deprivation, and sex acts are common hazing practices across many groups. Furthermore, and perhaps more concerning is that students reported that in 25% of hazing experiences alumni were present, and that coaches or organization advisors were aware of the groups hazing behaviors, 25% of the hazing behaviors occurred on-campus public space and 25% of talk with peers or family about their hazing experiences and students report limited exposure to hazing prevention efforts that extend beyond a “hazing is not tolerated” approach (Madden and Allen, 2008). When looking at the results of the study many wonder why some would want to take partake in such pledges and initiation practices, especially when looking at the psychological and physical abuse that is endured by many.  Cimino (2011) reports that he believes that there are many reasons why someone would want to participate in the hazing practices.  He theorized that hazing can create solidarity and can be an expression of dominance; and that hazing allows for the selection of committed group members. Since humans are designed to want to feel accepted and valued there is some willingness to make unmonitored decisions that favor the self or allies. For individuals that have been previously bullied while attending junior highs it may be important for them to feel valued and accepted. During participation of the activities new and prospective members are willing to endure high levels of humiliation of abuse for small rewards. Cimino (2011) also points out that fraternities and sororities often spread out their hazing events over time and the time between allows prospective members to back out from the group entirely, while those who do not back out show their continued commitment to the pledges. At a general level this creates group cohesion, and allows for group survival.  For some they feel that benefits far outweigh the negatives and are willing to endure hazing in order to gain acceptance, group identification, and protection from non-group members (Diamond, Callahan, Chain, and Solomon, 2015).   Allen and Madden (2012) state that contrary to other forms of peer victimization, college students were more likely to report that their hazing experiences were positive. As an example a study completed by Allen and Madden (2012) found that, 31% of the 9,067 college respondents reported that being the victim of hazing caused them to feel more like a member of the group, whereas only 11% of respondents indicated that it made them feel stressed. Moreover, in the same study, 22% reported a sense of accomplishment, 18% felt strong, and 15% reported doing better in class. Alternately, the perceived negative effects of hazing were minimal. For example, only 4% of students indicated they felt guilty and 2% reported feeling like they were in danger (Allan & Madden, 2012). Furthermore it seems that most students involved in fraternities and sororities conveyed a more favorable impression of hazing than their college counterparts did; they viewed hazing as more fun and less harmful than students not involved. Therefore, participation in hazing appears to foster a mentality that condones hazing as part of the social experiences of members of fraternities and sororities, directly contributing to strong group cohesion, and the continuation of hazing practices across different arenas. Another large arena that allows for hazing is in sports, at a collegiate level, 80% of National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes have experienced some sort of hazing throughout their college athletic career (Diamond et al., 2015). Many of who have experienced it report that often the hazing occurred during team initiations and common hazing practices included three main categories; physical, psychological, and alcohol related.  Teams are built on unity, in collegiate sports it is thought that the biases behind hazing and the lack of perception of its occurrence is rooted in the athlete’s attempt to demonstrate self-worth, dedication, and willingness to make sacrifices for team by their participation in the hazing events (Diamond et al., 2015). When hazing occurs it affects more than just feelings, the psychological repercussions can be damaging to one’s academic career.  Many who have experienced victimization through bullying and hazing at a collegiate level can easily experience high stress and anxiety as well as lack of motivation in the classroom. It is common for those who were bullied in high school and middle school to carry negative baggage into college, those individuals are also more likely to try to get into a fraternity or sorority in order to feel accepted. Unfortunately, hazing often brings up previous victimization thus leading to higher levels of stress and lack of academic motivation. Young-Jones, Fursa, Byrket, and Sly, (2015) state that the extent to which the student is motivated to learn is an important component in academic success.  They also state that in order for one to achieve academic success, individuals must feel supported and have their basic psychological needs meet.  For those who are experiencing bullying, hazing, and victimization at the collegiate level are more likely to experiencing a higher level of perceived stress, and a lower level of perceived social support which can ultimately negatively impact their academic success. Hazing and victimization can also cause one to question their self-worth and lower one’s self-esteem.  Furthermore, individuals with a mental health diagnosis or a disability may be more prone to peer victimization than others. According to Mercuro, Merritt, and Fiumefreddo (2014) many cognitive processes could be negatively impacted due to hazing, such as self-esteem, moral and identity development. They point out that often when individuals leave home for the first time they’re looking for acceptance and that the idea of belonging to something bigger than them helps to alleviate the fears of being alone, therefore trumping over any fears of initiation pledges or practices among sororities, and fraternities.  Although many felt that pledging to a fraternity would raise their self-esteem, Mercuro, Merritt, and Fiumefreddo (2014) found that individuals who didn’t experience hazing had higher levels of self-esteem and those that experienced severe induction activities were more likely to have an increased dependency on their fellow peers, feeling uncomfortable being left alone.Hazing is illegal and most colleges and universities have a strict zero tolerance policy; however, in most studies individuals who have experienced hazing have stated that coaches and educators were aware of the initiation practices yet seemed to not consequence the behaviors.  Administrators at colleges and Universities are starting to realize that establishing policies and produces is not nearly enough and that better interventions need to be put in place in order to diminish the behavior overall. According to Walter KimBrough (2012) in order to put in effective prevention efforts an establishment must have a strong and talented student affairs, as well as a chief student affairs officer. However, with that being said in recent years budget cuts have eliminated student affairs and other resources, therefore moving hazing prevention efforts under academic affairs.  It is during this time that most prevention efforts are not seen thoroughly because individuals within the academic affairs are not involved in student life.   Kimbrough (2012) also expresses the importance of annual trainings for students in high risk groups, such as; Greek letter organizations, and athletics.  It should also be implemented during the beginning of the semesters for individuals who express a desire to join such organizations. Furthermore, it is important for the president of the university or college to set the tone at these sessions. In doing so they can express their expectations, and the establishments stance on hazing, their protocol and the consequences of such behaviors.  Many colleges and universities have a “zero tolerance” environment; however, in recent years the phase is used so widely that it has lost a great deal of its meaning.  There are a lot of higher education institutions that recognize that hazing is happening on their campuses yet nothing is put in place and people are not being disciplined for their behaviors.  Therefore on many campuses if “zero tolerance” does not mean suspension or expulsion, it is not truly a zero-tolerance policy.