Students are usually the ones who initiate hazing activities, often because they were hazed themselves. Students have a significant role to play in determining whether hazing activities take place. There are some things all students who participate in school activities can do to prevent hazing. If you are a leader of a team or group you have an even more powerful role in preventing hazing by taking the following actions.
- Set a positive example for being a group member. Each individual team or group member affects the beliefs and actions of the whole group. Even one team member can be effective in preventing hazing, intervening when hazing occurs, and taking action if hazing has taken place. Model respect and inclusion by welcoming "rookies" into the team, and including everyone who participates.
- Take part in and help develop constructive team building activities. Initiation into a group can be a positive, constructive experience or a negative, destructive one. Each team makes this call. Many teams and groups establish fun, team-building activities at the beginning of each season, with rituals that welcome new members into the group. . These positive team-building activities should happen instead of hazing activities, not in addition to hazing. Teambuilding activities should emphasize respect for all, inclusion, valuing the contributions of all, cooperation, trust, teamwork and other positive values. Negative activities, such as hazing, take away from these positive values and are to be discouraged. Talk to your coach or leader about activities that can be used to strengthen your team by building an atmosphere of team unity and cohesion. Your performance as a team will be better.
- Don't haze or be involved in hazing activities. Hazing is against your school rules, and - in most states - hazing is against the law. If you hear your teammates planning to haze someone, speak up. Name it hazing; state that it is against the rules; refuse to participate in the activity; give an alternative; and leave the discussion if you can't change the activity from negative to positive. If you haven't convinced your teammates not to haze, go to a trusted adult to discuss what action to take next.
- Report any hazing activities Because hazing (as well as any bullying behavior) involves more powerful students controlling the behavior of less powerful, it can be frightening to report or try to change it yourself. Talk to a trusted adult who can take action and protect your from retaliation.
- Attend pre-season meetings and bring up hazing as a topic. It is so much easier to prevent hazing than to stop it when it starts. Your school has a hazing policy, and adults have the responsibility to enforce it. Talk to your coach or advisor about including hazing as a topic. Suggest that alternative activities be discussed at the same time.
- Question authority figures appropriately. Hazing takes place because those with higher status in a group initiate it, or at the very least allow it to go on. These authority figures can be student or adult leaders, and sometimes they can be wrong.If you feel that a leader is doing something wrong, this is an appropriate time to question them - on your own or in a group. Doing it a group can be safer and have more impact. There can be power in numbers. (See related information about bystanders in "Are you a student who has witnessed hazing?" below.) However, it may not always appropriate or timely to take group action. When you go to the authority figure alone or in a group, be respectful (even though you may not respect their position on hazing). Try not to be hostile or defensive. Know what you want to say and be clear about your goal. Communicate a few important points and what you want clearly. Be focused. Stay on task and don't confuse things with unnecessary details.