Pledge Masters Haze Girls, Boys Without Mercy

On a chilly autumn morning, four young men wore nothing but diapers as they marched together in a line. They were following their two pledge masters to the sidewalk for another round of "loyalty tests."

"You want to be part of this?" the pledge master yelled.

"Yes!" The four pledges replied in unison.

Watch the story on "What Would You Do?" Tuesday, March 10, at 10 p.m. ET

The torturous games had just begun as one pledge was forced to guzzle what appeared to be vodka from a funnel.

"Open wide … take it all down … it's delicious!" the pledge master taunted.

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It's supposed to be an initiation process, the ultimate bonding experience, but often fraternities, sports teams and even marching bands have taken this traditional rite of passage too far.

This type of hazing would have normally taken place behind closed doors, but ABC News decided to stage this scenario in public, to see what ordinary people would do if they witnessed hazing.

The Set Up

Just down the road from a college on Long Island, where local police told us they have had to deal with real college hazing in the past, ABC News set up an ethical dilemma.

"What Would You Do?" hired four male actors to play the role of young, scared pledges and two additional actors to be their "Pledge Masters" who issued orders without mercy.

From a nearby truck we watched people's reactions as our hidden cameras rolled.

One unsuspecting teenager, walking with her sister, came face-to-face with our hazing scenario.

Participating in the Hazing

"We have this thing we like to do with goldfish," the pledge master explained, holding up a funnel and a tank of live goldfish.

He asked the young women to help him out, and one of them complied, holding the funnel in the pledge's mouth. The two girls watched as the pledge was forced to swallow vodka and a goldfish.

When ABC News correspondent John Quinones emerged with a camera crew to explain that this was a staged event, the girls told him they didn't think the pledges were in danger.

It's no surprise that teenagers and adults may see hazing differently. One pledge, however, was attached to a pole with saran wrap.

"It can get out of hand, but it can also be fun and people want to do it to get in," one of the teens said.

According to Susan Lipkins, psychologist and author of the book "Preventing Hazing," tolerating this type of behavior contributes to the problem.

"They're outrageous destructive behaviors that if we continue to let everybody do it, it will grow more and more common," said Lipkins. "More kids will die and more kids will get hurt."

'It Is My Business'

At least once a year, somewhere in the country, hazing ends in tragedy. On the same weekend that we were shooting our "What Would You Do?" scenario in November, a student died at a fraternity party at the University of Delaware. The 18-year-old freshman was a pledge.

Kate Ferrari and Ron Kellner, who both happened upon our staged scenario, had heard the news about the student's death, and weren't willing to let the same tragic event happen in their own town. They jumped right in when they noticed the hazing.

"You know a kid just died this weekend?" asked Ferrari.

"Pick them up off the ground and take them f**king home before somebody dies!" demanded Kellner.

Another passerby, Katharine Tischer, also tried to stop the hazing.

"Have you ever been part of a sorority?" the pledge master asked her.

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