Hazing by way of definition refers to use of harassment, humiliation or abuse as away of initiating an individual into a particular gang or group. Hazing can involve either physical process which usually are violent in nature or can involve mental processes which usually are degrading in nature. The person undergoing hazing is expected to endure the ritualistic tests that he is subjected to and this is seen as a way of promoting group loyalty and bondage as it involves shared suffering with other members of the group or participants. Hazing may occur in a number of contexts including the armed forces, workplace, high schools, sororities and fraternities (Davis, 1998). Rookies let hazing to take place due to a number of reasons.
They may want to be associated and belong to the in-group and hence letting themselves to be subjected to hazing. This is due to the fact that the in-group has its own beliefs, identity, norms and values. Cognitive dissonance as explained by Leon Festinger may lead to hazing. (Monarch, 1998) Despite the fact that hazing has been prevalent mover the years, it has been difficult for researchers to study it in terms of its causative underlying mechanisms because of its secretive nature. This has contributed to poor understanding of hazing. Although the many cases of hazing are never reported, various incidents have occurred where by victims have suffered severe injuries and even death. An example is an incident that occurred in Clarkson University on 10th February 1997 where a 1st year student along with his colleagues was forced to drink a large quantity of alcohol from a bucket. The poor 17 year old student was found the following day dead after allegedly choking on his own vomit (Sweet, 1999). This is just one of the many hazing stories of which the majority is not as severe. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate hazing in United States of America High Schools. The study was carried out by Alfred University, USA in April 2000.
Out of approximately 15 million high school students in United States, a population sample of 20, 000 was selected which included both seniors and juniors. A survey instrument was prepared and mailed to the selected 20,000 students using their home addresses. On follow up it was discovered that only 5.46% did not reach their destination hence it was assumed that approximately 18,600 of the survey instruments were delivered. However the responses that were received totaled 1,541 which reflected an 8.28 % rate of response. The cover letter of the survey instrument consisted of enough information about the survey to solicit informed consent from the respondent and also deadline of the return of the instrument. The survey instrument consisted of the background of the respondents including their school grade, sex, resident state, type of school, and any membership in a group, race and location. The instrument also consisted of the respondents experience with hazing and its definition whereby they were asked to state whether for each type of a group they joined because of hazing, didn’t join because they were afraid to haze, or were forced to leave the group because of hazing. Students were asked during what age they were introduced to hazing, if ever, if they reported it, and what they felt were the most appropriate ways of preventing it. The survey finally asked the students what activities they were expected to do in order to join a group or a team in high school. Initiation behavior that was used was grouped into 4 categories and was from the previous year’s study of athletes of NCAA. The grouping included community building, endangering, abuse of substance and humiliation. Open ended questions regarding the student’s suggestions about suggestions of other preventive strategies, motive for participation, experiences and consequences, afterward feelings and activities that were required of them were asked. (High School hazing, 2008) Statistical analysis Statistical tables were used to analyze each respondent group of students. Across-tab involving gender and area of residence was employed to come up with sample weights.
The six groups of females and males by region were separately weighted by frequency of sample and divided by the population to come up with estimations of prevalence and lead to production of percentages expected for whole population based to the current limited knowledge. Cross-tabular analysis employing chi-square statistics were conducted to study significant differences among groups. Activities were used to cross demographic groups in order to identify hot spots and at risk groups.
The study found out that the students were of the view that hazing is condoned by adults. They felt that hazing was acceptable socially and they would significantly engage in the activity especially if they knew of a hazed adult. The students usually do not think hazing is a big problem. Half of the students that were involved in abuse of substance and other illegal acts as a way of being accepted into a group believed their activities as hazing. However, 98% of the students believed that dangerous hazing was not good while 86% believed that hazing that is humiliating was not good. The study also found out that student saw hazing as a way of having fun and as exciting. It was also found out that hazing begins at a young age and can progress throughout life. (Eisenber, 1986)