The following myths versus reality were adapted in part from Stop Hazing.
MYTH: It’s not hazing if I willingly participated.
FACT: There is no such thing as consensual hazing. In states that have laws against hazing, consent of the victim is not a defense. Even if someone agrees to participate in a potentially hazardous action, it may not be true consent because of peer pressure, intentional or unintentional threats, and the withholding of information about what will occur.
MYTH: Hazing only exists in fraternities and sororities.
FACT: Hazing occurs across the country in athletic teams, performing arts groups, military units, and in other types of clubs and organizations. It’s not limited to colleges and universities.
MYTH: The definition is vague and open to interpretation.
FACT: Read the definition and then ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the activity involve humiliation or intimidation?
- Does it involve physical abuse (e.g., sleep deprivation, calisthenics, ingesting too much water)?
- Is there a significant risk of injury or a question of safety?
- Would you invite your parents, a university official or the UDK to observe the activity?
- Is alcohol involved?
If the answer to any of the above questions is "Yes," the activity is probably hazing.
MYTH: Hazing only a little bit is not really that bad.
FACT: While there may be severe forms of hazing, any hazing is wrong. Even “a little” can have unintended consequences for a new or potential member and if it meets the definition of hazing, it is hazing.
MYTH: Hazing is never subtle: it’s in your face.
FACT: Hazing can be subtle and have a negative effect on the new or potential member's attitude toward the organization. Things like carrying pledge books, not allowing new members to enter the house through the main door, lengthy greetings are all subtle forms of hazing.
MYTH: Since alumni may have been hazed, they expect every new member to be hazed to join the club.
FACT: There are some traditions that should not continue and hazing is one of them. If hazing is meant to teach members about the organization’s culture, the activities should have some relevancy and connection to life in the organization.
MYTH: If we don’t haze our new or potential members, they won’t know about our traditions and values.
FACT: Hazing is not a tradition to be proud of or passed on to new or potential members. Many people submit to hazing because they desire acceptance by others, are afraid to resist, or feel a need to prove to themselves or others that they are worthy or tough enough (e.g., "a real man"). These motives reflect conformity, fear and insecurity, which are not qualities typically associated with the values upon which organizations are founded. A positive, educational program will teach the traditions of an organization.
MYTH: Hazing is okay as long as it is not physically dangerous.
FACT: Some hazing victims report that mental hazing was worse than being physically abused. Being yelled at and/or having demeaning things said to or about you may have lasting psychological scars.
MYTH: All organizations haze.
FACT: All fraternity and sororities as well as the U.S. military prohibit hazing as do many other organizations. A well-organized, creative program will build community and foster character development without hazing. It takes vision and commitment to run a good, non-hazing program.
MYTH: There is no such thing as psychological hazing.
FACT: Hazing has two forms: physical or psychological. Psychological hazing includes, but is not limited to, such things as sleep deprivation, creation of excessive fatigue, compulsory servitude, humiliation or being yelled at or called demeaning names.