Parents Guide to Prevent Hazing

September 24-28 is National Hazing Prevention Week. During this week, campuses, fraternities, and sororities join together to help create safer campus cultures. Alpha Sigma Tau proudly stands against hazing during this week and throughout the year.

We invite you to follow along with us this week on Instagram. We will be showcasing what our collegiate Sisters are doing to create a healthy new member culture. Chapters that create a healthy new member culture do not condone or participate in hazing and work to make new members feel welcomed and at home in Alpha Sigma Tau.

Hazing Prevention Week is also aimed at more than just fraternities and sororities. Hazing doesn’t just happen in college or Greek letter organizations. Hazing is an unfortunate reality for young people looking to join groups such as high school sports teams, bands, or other student organizations.

If you are a parent, friend, loved one, or just a caring adult: here are just a few ways you can help the young people in your life.

Get Educated

What is hazing?

Hazing is any activity that intentionally causes embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule and risks emotional or physical harm to members of a group or team, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate. Examples include forced drinking, difficult physical activities, or performing degrading tasks. Hazing occurs when new members are pressured to “prove” their worth to become a part of the organization. 1

You may have experienced hazing when you were younger. But it’s important to remember that while what you experienced in your college days may have seemed ok then, it’s not now.

How is hazing different from bullying?

Hazing is similar to bullying. Both employ intimidation and negative power dynamics. However, often, bullies often single out an individual and use bullying as a way to exclude them. On the other hand, hazing forces people to “earn” their way into a group. Bullying is about exclusion, whereas hazing is about inclusion. 2

Know the warning signs.

Your student may or may not feel comfortable expressing concern directly to you if he or she is being hazed. Here are some key things to look for that might help you identify whether or not your student may be experiencing hazing:

  • Sudden change in behavior or attitude after joining the organization or team
  • Wanting to leave the organization or team with no real explanation
  • Sudden decrease in communication with friends and family
  • Physical or psychological exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained injuries or illness
  • Change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Expressed feeling of sadness or feeling of worthlessness
  • Increase in secrecy and unwillingness to share details 3

Understand What a Welcoming Culture Looks Like

Members feel welcome, safe, and comfortable.

Members graciously respect one another, regardless of their status in the organization.

Diversity is a lived value. Members are appreciated for who they are and what they bring to the group.

Members look forward to being part of group activities.

Group leaders are open-minded and genuinely consider new ideas from others.

Have a Conversation with the Young People in Your Life

Being a parent or loving adult means sometimes having difficult conversations with your children and other young people. Talking about hazing is no different. But the good news is that it can be a positive, empowering conversation for both of you.

Make sure the young people in your life understand what hazing is and why it is harmful. Teach them to identify and seek out friends and groups that will embrace them for who they are. Remind them that they can talk to you or another trusted adult if they are or see others being hazed.

If you suspect your child is being hazed, share your concerns and observations with them. Don’t get discouraged if they don’t want to talk about it. Be prepared to ask questions and keep asking until you get good answers. If they deny hazing is happening, but you are still concerned, reach out to fellow parents, teachers, counselors, and others to get help.

If you or your child has experienced or suspects hazing in their Alpha Sigma Tau chapter, call the Anti-Hazing Hotline at 1-888-NOT-HAZE (1-888-668-4293) or Alpha Sigma Tau Headquarters at 317-613-7575. All calls to the Anti-Hazing Hotline are anonymous. Alpha Sigma Tau will take every effort to protect the identities of anyone who reports hazing.

1 What Hazing Looks Like.
2 Hazing and Bullying.
3 What Parents Need to Know.