Hazing is a dangerous and abusive activity happening on school campuses today. It’s important to know what teen hazing is and what it can look like.

Joining clubs and activities in school is a great way to connect with friends. Unfortunately, hazing is also a real possibility as well. Types of hazing that can occur include subtle hazing, harassment hazing, and violent hazing.

Hazing occurs in all kinds of activities and is not exclusive to college greek organizations. These abusive activities happen in marching bands, dance and cheer groups, sports teams and many other clubs. Teen hazing happens on both high school and college campuses.

Hazing can come in different forms, and some are less obvious than others. It’s important to know what hazing is and what it can look like. Hazing can lead to mental distress, physical discomfort and even alcohol misuse. Many teens and young adults who experience hazing downplay the risks, making it even more important to communicate the real dangers of hazing.

Hazing Statistics

Hazing is often associated with college fraternity groups. However, one in five American students will experience hazing during their high school years, according to a resource on HazingPrevention.org. So, when these students enter college, 20% of them have already been through some form of hazing. Coerced alcohol consumption is a common hazing activity and is also one of the most dangerous. Other hazing activities include various forms of humiliation, physical discomfort or emotional distress.

Even with the increasing awareness of the dangers of hazing being made known to students, hazing continues at an alarming rate in both high schools and colleges. Hazing statistics have not been studied consistently; however, data from a widely-cited comprehensive report on StopHazing.org shows just how prevalent hazing is among students. These numbers represent a pervasive hidden culture of abusive practices in school settings. A few key statistics from the study include:

  • About 1.5 million young people experience hazing in high school every year.
  • 47% of new college students have already been through a hazing experience.
  • 25% of students who reported being hazed believed that a coach or advisor was aware of it happening.
  • Over half of college students who belong to a club or team experience hazing.

Types of Hazing

All forms of hazing are meant to highlight the power of the senior members over the new recruits. Hazing is intended to emphasize hierarchy with new recruits at the bottom. There are three main types of hazing: subtle hazing, harassment hazing, and violent hazing.

Subtle Hazing

Subtle hazing is a form of relational bullying. It is much harder to see directly and is often considered less serious. The actions may appear small, but they can leave a strong imprint on a person’s mind and emotions.

Emotional and social manipulation are at the core of subtle hazing. The examples below include a variety of ways that this type of hazing keeps the power scales out of balance:

  • Shunning
  • Social exclusion
  • Deception
  • Withholding privileges
  • Name-calling
  • Requiring new recruits to do things not expected of other members
  • Random quizzes on pointless information

Harassment Hazing

Harassment hazing is done in more direct ways and can create noticeable anxiety among the new recruits. These activities are intended to be physically or emotionally uncomfortable for new members.

Common harassment hazing rituals can trigger worries about being seen as weak or unworthy. New members often feel confused, frustrated and anxious about being rejected. Some common harassment hazing rituals include:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Being told to do things at odd hours for senior members
  • Requiring new members to wear humiliating clothing
  • Verbal abuse
  • Threats
  • Depriving members of the ability to reasonably eat and maintain personal hygiene

Violent Hazing

Violent hazing rituals can be fatal if taken too far. Hazing death is not common but has happened at high schools and college campuses in many communities.

These dangerous activities expose new members to real danger and potential traumatization. Many of these examples are illegal or violate school codes enough to warrant expulsion. They include:

  • Public nudity
  • Abduction/kidnapping
  • Exposure to extreme weather without protection
  • Forced or coerced consumption of alcohol or drugs
  • Coercion to eat disgusting food or beverage combinations
  • Physical assault, beating
  • Burning or branding
  • Expected abuse of animals
  • Expected abuse of other new members
  • Expected participation in illegal activities

When Hazing Turns to Addiction

The dangers of hazing become critical when alcohol is introduced. Young people are at high risk for many reasons:

  • Coercion can push students into making dangerous decisions.
  • Young people tend to underestimate the risks of excessive drinking and alcohol poisoning.
  • If alcohol consumption is combined with other hazing activities, the risk of harm increases.
  • Students may not speak up when they witness or experience dangerous alcohol consumption as part of hazing for fear of being excluded from the group.
  • Students who already have experience misusing alcohol may overlook warning signs of excessive drinking associated with hazing.

Students who get through hazing experiences with alcohol may overlook the dangers. This pattern of drinking may seem like a way to gain continued acceptance by the group despite the risks. A student who strongly craves this sense of belonging may continue unhealthy patterns of substance use.

If left unchecked, these behaviors may develop into a teen substance abuse disorder. Teens going through any kind of life transition are vulnerable to substance abuse. The beginning of high school, the first year of college, parental divorce or moving to a new school are examples of stressful times.

During these difficult periods, students may be more willing to consume alcohol to make group acceptance easier. Exposure to alcohol with hazing becomes even riskier in the long-term. The intoxication effects may temporarily calm their worries and make them feel more relaxed. The emotional aftermath of hazing may provide a reason to self-medicate with alcohol.

As these patterns become more ingrained, the chance of developing an addiction grows. A parent may find that their teen has rapidly changed friend groups. The teen may also have trouble with grades, become distant, act defiantly, or speak disrespectfully. These are a few of the many signs of a possible addiction to alcohol.

Reaching Out For Help With Teen Addiction

Teen hazing is a dangerous and abusive activity happening on school campuses today. When hazing involves alcohol, teen substance abuse can set in. If you care about a teen or young adult with substance abuse or addiction issues, call The Recovery Village. The professional staff can answer your questions about alcohol misuse, hazing, and many other concerns. Call today to get the information you need and help for your student.

Rob Alston
Editor – Rob Alston
Rob Alston has traveled around Australia, Japan, Europe, and America as a writer and editor for industries including personal wellness and recovery. Read more
Erika Krull
Medically Reviewed By – Erika Krull, LMHP
Erika Krull has a master’s degree in mental health counseling and has been a freelance writer since 2006. Read more

HazingPrevention.org. “Studies/Statistics.” Accessed August 6, 2019.

Allan, Elizabeth J.; Madden, Mary; Smith, Lori; et al. “Hazing in View: College Students at Risk.” StopHazing.org, March 11, 2008. Accessed August 6, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.