Oct. 17, 2003 -- Hank Nuwer, author of High School Hazing: When Rites Become Wrongs and three other books on hazing, offers these suggestions to help curtail this pervasive problem:
Help establish welcome programs for first-year and transfer students. Rites of passage are integral and valuable in welcoming new members to a group or students to a school, but mentoring programs are more constructive than pledging rituals.
Reconsider all traditions in all school groups. The school choir is just as likely as the football team to have its own traditions. Faculty members need to be aware of what goes on in each group.
Urge your school to adopt a statement of awareness. Signing a written statement agreeing to a specific policy raises awareness of hazing and instills a sense of accountability in all participants.
Foster a spirit of camaraderie. One form of hazing is having younger students perform chores like carrying equipment. Everyone should share in these responsibilities so a better team spirit is created.
Require supervision at all group functions. Simply having an adult or teacher present at all times can go a long way in deterring hazing and preventing groups of kids from getting out of hand.
Don’t cover up hazing incidents. A “conspiracy of silence” often feeds off itself and becomes difficult to stop. If an episode of hazing is witnessed, it should be reported immediately so it can be dealt with right away.
Eliminate the risk of hazing. Only a zero-tolerance attitude will create an environment in which hazing is not accepted. Letting episodes slide is counter-productive to stopping hazing.
Contact hazing activists for guidance. Don’t lead the crusade alone. Anti-hazing activists and groups are there to assist those less experienced in fighting a widespread problem.
Don’t confuse discipline with abuse. Working hard, fostering teamwork, enforcing rules and learning fundamentals are all part of discipline and should be accepted by players and students. Shoving or verbally taunting someone is abuse and should never be tolerated by anyone.