Joining groups is a basic human need. Forming a sense of identity and belonging is a major developmental task for teenagers. Children of high school age, however, are just learning to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. They need healthy adult supervision, role modeling, and guidance, without which initiation may easily go awry. When groups employ humiliation and danger to initiate new members into their groups, it becomes hazing. We found that 91 percent of high school students belong to at least one group. Nearly all of them (98%) experienced positive activities as part of joining these groups, and half of them experienced only positive activities. However, we also found:
Hazing is prevalent among American high school students.
- 48 percent of students who belong to groups reported being subjected to hazing activities.
- 43 percent reported being subjected to humiliating activities.
- 30 percent reported performing potentially illegal acts as part of their initiation.
- Both female and male students report high levels of hazing, although male students are at highest risk, especially for dangerous hazing.
- The lower a student's grade point average the greater their risk of being hazed.
- Almost every type of high school group had significantly high levels of hazing.
- Even groups usually considered safe haze new members. For example, 24 percent of students involved in church groups were subjected to hazing activities.
- 71 percent of the students subjected to hazing reported negative consequences, such as getting into fights, being injured, fighting with parents, doing poorly in school, hurting other people, having difficulty eating, sleeping, or concentrating, or feeling angry, confused, embarrassed or guilty.
- 25 percent of those who reported being hazed were first hazed before the age of 13.
- Dangerous hazing activities are as prevalent among high school students (22%) as among college athletes (21%).
- Substance abuse in hazing is prevalent in high school (23%) and increases in college (51%).
- Students were most likely to be hazed if they knew an adult who was hazed.
- 36 percent of the students said that they would not report hazing primarily because "There's no one to tell," or "Adults won't handle it right." (27%).
- Only 14 percent said they were hazed, yet 48 percent said they participated in activities that are defined as hazing, and 29 percent said they did things that are potentially illegal in order to join a group.
- Most said they participated in humiliating, dangerous or potentially illegal activities as a part of joining a group because those activities
are "fun and exciting".