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Hazing vs. bullying

two serious looking girls.

Hazing is when a person who wants to join a group is expected to do things that are very embarrassing, dangerous, or illegal. The group might be a club, sorority, or team, for example.

People sometimes think hazing is a just a harmless part of joining a group. But hazing can really hurt someone physically and emotionally.

Keep reading to learn more about hazing:

What is hazing? arrow. top

Hazing can take many forms. Examples of hazing can include the following:

  • Making someone stay awake for many hours
  • Yelling, swearing, or insulting someone
  • Forcing someone to wear very embarrassing clothes
  • Telling someone they have to eat disgusting things
  • Physical beatings
  • Pressuring someone to drink a lot of alcohol
  • Making someone get a tattoo

What are warning signs of hazing? arrow. top

Here are some possible signs of hazing:

  • You have heard from friends about a group using hazing.
  • You feel a knot in your stomach — trust your instincts!
  • You have been warned by teachers or other adults that the group is dangerous.
  • You have seen the group push others to do things that you believe are wrong or dangerous.
  • You feel afraid to break away from the group.
  • The group leaders are very mean.
  • The group leaders do things that don’t seem right and then make you promise not to tell anyone.

What can I do to stay safe from hazing? arrow. top

If you are concerned about hazing, try to find out if a group is known for having mean rituals. If you think you are going a place where you might be hazed, have a plan to stay safe. Stick together with friends you trust, and make sure you have a way to get home safely.

If you are being hazed, tell an adult. Some states have laws against hazing. Remember, no one has a right to hurt you or pressure you to do something that feels wrong!

One girl’s hazing story arrow. top

Read about how one girl fought hazing — and won.

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True sisterhood

"I was so excited when I first decided to pledge a sorority in college. However, soon my pledging experience changed and the sisters of the sorority became unfriendly and verbally abusive. My ten pledge sisters and I dealt with being blindfolded, yelled at, lied to, and harassed, and I even suffered physical pain. I made it through all of it, though, and after attending my first national sorority convention, decided I wanted things to change. I refused to participate in any hazing events for the next pledge class, and eventually left my chapter.

It wasn’t until almost a year later that I got the strength and courage to contact the sorority’s national officers, who not only told me they were proud of my courage but were also kind enough to remove my disaffiliated status and make me an alumni sister.

Hazing may be tradition, but traditions can change. Stand up for yourself, and don’t just go along with it. Hazing is harmful in more ways than people can imagine. Hazing does more than leave bruises or emotional wounds that may never be healed. Hazing can ruin people’s friendships as well as people’s lives.
My organization nationally is very openly against hazing. They made it known at our convention that we could trust them and lean on them. That is what sisters are for."

Source: Adapted from

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Content last reviewed April 15,2014
Page last updated August 25, 2014