High School Hazing
Who is Most At-Risk of Being Hazed?

All students involved in high school organizations are at risk of being subjected to hazing.

No high school group was completely free of hazing.

Adults' experiences and attitudes greatly influence students' involvement in hazing. Students who knew an adult who was hazed were more likely to be hazed. In the teenage years, being accepted is the central developmental task. This drive for conformity creates fertile ground for hazing, so that even minor adult encouragement of this behavior can be more powerful than adults realize because it plays upon teenagers' incredibly strong drive to belong.

Students' attitudes reflect their likelihood of being hazed.Students who said they considered hazing socially acceptable were significantly more frequently involved in all forms of hazing. Not surprisingly, students who thought humiliating hazing was good were more often subjected to humiliation; students who thought dangerous hazing was good were more apt to engage in dangerous hazing.

Students with a lower grade point average (GPA) were significantly more likely to be involved with all forms of hazing than those with a higher GPA.

For many students, hazing starts young.

Six percent of all students responding to the survey indicated they were hazed before they were teenagers. One quarter of the students who reported being hazed in high school (24.3%) said they were hazed before they were teenagers.

Age Students Were First Hazed
Age %
< 9 10
10 - 12 15
13 - 15 61
16 - 18 15

For many students hazing becomes a way of life more than a rite of passage. As found in the research on hazing in collegiate athletics (Alfred University, 1999, p. 8), 42 percent of the athletes hazed in college were also hazed in high school and 5 percent said they were hazed in middle school. Comparing high school athletes to college athletes shows the level of dangerous hazing persists at about the same levels (23% in high school, 21% in college), whereas substance abuse and humiliation increase substantially in college (from 22% to 51% and from 45% to 65% respectively).

Percent of Athletes Subjected to Hazing, High School cf. College
Initiation Rites High School College
Humiliating Hazing 45% 65%
Substance Abuse 22% 21%
Dangerous Hazing 23% 21%

Boys were subjected to more hazing behaviors than girls and were significantly more involved in dangerous hazing. Among boys, 48 percent were subjected to humiliating hazing; 24 percent said they were involved in substance abuse; and 27 percent participated in dangerous hazing. Still, girls were consistently involved in all forms of hazing at very high levels: humiliating hazing 39 percent; substance abuse 18 percent; and dangerous hazing 17 percent.

Every high school organization, except newspaper and yearbook staffs, had significantly high levels of hazing.

  • Sports, gangs, music, art, and theater groups were significantly high in every form of hazing.
  • Church groups were significantly high in all forms, but particularly dangerous hazing.
  • Cheerleading and vocational groups were significantly high in humiliation and substance abuse.
  • Fraternities and sororities were significantly high in all three categories of hazing behaviors.
  • Social groups were significantly high in humiliating and dangerous hazing.
  • Political groups were significantly high in substance abuse.
  • Scholastic groups were significantly high in dangerous hazing.

An unanticipated finding was that nearly half of the students hazed for church groups were expected to engage in illegal activities.

Students Significantly More Likely to Experience Various Forms of Hazing (2)
Humiliating Hazing Substance Abuse Hazing Dangerous Hazing
Grade Point Ave: Lower Lower Lower
Gender:     Male
Believe: Humiliation is good   Danger is good
Know adult who was hazed: Yes Yes Yes
Think hazing is socially acceptable: Yes Yes Yes
Were hazed for: Sport

Peer group or gang

Music, Art, or Theatre

Cheerleading Squad

Church Group


Social Organization

Vocational Group
Peer group or gang


Cheerleading Squad

Music, Art, or Theatre

Vocational Group


Political Group

Church Group
Peer group or gang


Church Group

Music, Art, or Theatre


Social Organization

Scholastic Group
(2) Significance based on logistic regression X2 at <0.01.

More links:


Executive Summary

What are Initiation Rites?

How Many Students are Hazed?

Who is Most At-Risk of Being Hazed?

What are the Consequences?

Why Do They Do That?

How Do We Stop Hazing?





Alfred University Senior Paper - Hazing

Hazing Study PDF Format

Initiation Rites for NSAA Sports Teams