Hazing: Destroying Young Lives

Hazing: Destroying Young Lives

Hazing: Destroying Young Lives

Hazing: Destroying Young Lives


For decades, hazing rituals-such as excessive drinking, drug use, paddling, and sexual abuse-have been required by many teams and organizations as a rite of passage, while administration and department heads have turned a blind eye. In recent years, several young men and women have lost their live from hazing-related practices in Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, California, Louisiana, Virginia, and Massachusetts. But these practices and rituals are no longer linked just to large organizations and schools. Secondary schools are also seeing an increase in hazing lawsuits due to sexual and alcohol abuse conducted by sports teams. In Hazing: Destroying Young Lives, anti-hazing journalist Hank Nuwer assembles an extraordinary cast of experts to critique the evolution of this dangerous practice, from the first fraternity hazing death at Cornell University in 1873 to present-day tragedies. This hard-hitting compilation addresses the numerous, significant, and often overlooked impacts of hazing, including sexual exploitation, mental distress, depression, and even suicide.

Hazing: Destroying Young Lives is a compelling look at how universities, the military, and other social groups can learn from past mistakes and protect their members going forward.


Revising yet another volume on hazing has been a challenging undertaking made all the more fulfilling for me as I worked with this book’s team of Indiana University Press editors and contributors that include the nation’s best-known academics on hazing, hazing legal experts, Greek and student affairs professionals, and antihazing activists. a new volume dedicated to hazing research and prevention was necessary because hazing behaviors themselves have changed so dramatically in the last decade.

Having written about hazing ever since 1978 with an investigative journalism piece back then on hazing deaths for Human Behavior, I have watched attitudes toward the practice change with the times. in 1978 academics scoffed at the idea that hazing behaviors and practices were a matter of worthwhile academic research. This was part of a long-standing pattern. Back then, even more so than today, faculty, staff, and administrators turned their heads away from hazing humiliations and tragedies. One need only look at campus yearbooks through the first three quarters of the twentieth century to see hazing treated by students as a lark instead of as a degrading, and occasionally dangerous, affront to civility.

At present a generation of new scholars is completing graduate theses and dissertations on hazing in numbers unheard of back in 1978. During the Jimmy Carter administration, quality hazing scholarship predominately existed in abnormal psychology journals, but today it is an expertise, even a passion, for researchers in gender studies, minority studies, law enforcement, folklore, education, psychology, behavior studies, sociology, literary journalism, and on and on. Buffalo State College’s Butler Library Special Collections decision to create the Hazing Collection, stocked with scholarly works in part by me, offers a sanctuary for visiting researchers intent on finding new ways to counter hazing around the world.

What has changed is that some of the most demeaning hazing incidents now occur in sports teams, particularly at the secondary-school level. While collegiate . . .

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