Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Hazing Definition:

Unofficial punishment administered by peers.

A secretive form of painful or humiliating initiation imposed upon initiates to an organization such as military, sports, educational or even workplace.

It is of the very nature of hazing that it be kept secretive but some documented examples have included chug-a-lugging (forced or required consumption of alcoholic beverages)1 and indignities involving pain and nudity.2

Some of the more harmful forms of hazing are not strictly physical but emotional, psychological or mental hazing such as placing the individual in a contrived situation were they are degraded with extreme verbal abuse or simulated sexual activities.

In People v Lenti, Justice Albert Oppido of the County Court, Nassau County (New York), relied on these words:

"Hazing is defined to be striking, laying hands upon, treating with violence, or offering to do bodily harm to a new cadet with intent to punish or injure him; or other treatment of a tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting or humiliating nature....

"... the subjecting (as a freshman or fraternity pledge) to treatment intended to put in ridiculous or disconcerting position."

hazing [© Sylvie Bouchard - Fotolia]In the United States of America, which has had problems with harmful and over-the-top hazing rituals, HazingPrevention.org defines hazing as follows:

"Hazing is any action taken or situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule. risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of an group or team whether new or not regardless of the person's willingness to participate."

The 2009 edition of the Hockey Canada regulations, at §A.16:

"Hazing is an initiation practice that may humiliate, demean, degrade, or disgrace a person regardless of location or consent of the participant(s)."

Some jurisdictions, such as the state of New York and Illinois make hazing a crime. From the Illinois Revised Statutes, hazing is defined as:

"... any pastime or amusement, engaged in by students or other people in schools, academies, colleges, universities, or other educational institutions of this state, or by people connected with any of the public institutions of this state, whereby such pastime or amusement is had for the purpose of holding up any student, scholar or individual to ridicule for the pastime of others."

The state of Texas in the 2012 Education Code, includes this comprehensive definition:

"Hazing means any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization. The term includes:

"(A) Any type of physical brutality, such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity;

"(B) Any type of physical activity, such as sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in a small space, calisthenics, or other activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;

"(C) Any activity involving consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug, or other substance that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;

"(D) Any activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism, that subjects the student to extreme mental stress, shame, or humiliation, that adversely affects the mental health or dignity of the student or discourages the student from entering or remaining registered in an educational institution, or that may reasonably be expected to cause a student to leave the organization or the institution rather than submit to acts described in this subdivision; and

"(E) Any activity that induces, causes, or requires the student to perform a duty or task that involves a violation of the (Texas) Penal Code."


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