October 15, 2008

Hazing - Are Our Kids Going Too Far? Hazing is a well-known and long-standing part of the fabric of our society. If we haven't been through it ourselves, we likely know someone who has. But the practice of hazing as a way to indoctrinate a new member of a club, team or other group is on the rise and the ages of the participants are dropping. Is this just a normal part of growing up or should we be concerned? College fraternities and sororities are perhaps the best known of the groups that regularly require hazing as a rite of initiation, but lately it seems that many high school and even middle school groups are joining in. School Cheerleaders band members have been suspended for participating in dangerous hazing rituals, cheer leading squads have jumped into the fray and even some church youth groups are sheepishly admitting that they too have crossed over to the dark side. Although many still think of hazing as a harmless prank, a joke that leaves everyone, even the “hazees” laughing, hazing is more pernicious than it might appear at first glance. Hazing is defined as “any activity expected of someone joining a group (or to maintain full status in a group) that humiliates, degrades or risks emotional and/or physical harm, regardless of the person's willingness to participate.” The key here is that the activities are, by their very nature, designed to humiliate and degrade . . . and include the risk of physical or emotional harm. And the fact is that, as with so many things, our kids are busily trying to outdo each other. Hazing is becoming an on-going game of one-upsmanship. The activities are getting more risky and more violent. Should we be concerned? What's causing this and why are our kids directing so much anger and viciousness at their friends? These are good questions and I'm afraid I don't really have the answers. Could it be that our kids have been exposed to so much violence, from the nightly news to movies and video games, that they have become desensitized and callous? There is a lot of psychological research that suggests media violence can have such an effect on children. Have we as parents lost sight of our values or are we simply failing to

Lori Jewett

I'm an overly educated stay-at-home mom with two kids and the need for adult conversation.

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