Hazing is one of the most senseless, idiotic rituals there is. It has been banned in most schools for a long time, as far as I know. But it persists nonetheless. This was brought to light once again by the recent death of a college drum major at a college in Florida.
One would not think that it would be dangerous to be in the band, to be in football, yeah, but band?
Actually, the whole thing is still under investigation, as far a I know, but what has been brought out so far is that he had to walk from the front of a bus to the back of a bus, being beat on the whole way and that this was a traditional ritual.
It has also been stated that this type of thing goes on all the time and is often shrouded in a veil of secrecy.
How can this be?
Well I have to think back to my high school days, the early 1960s. At that time I don’t think there were all the anti-hazing laws on the books, but it may have still been officially prohibited under my school’s policy (not sure).
But this is what happened. We freshmen boys on the first day, or I’m thinking the whole first week, of P.E. were required to sit in the bleachers inside the gym. Just sit there for about an hour, no P.E. instruction yet. The coaches (P.E. instructors) would leave. After that, the seniors sitting in bleachers across from us would throw pennies or metal slugs at us. I don’t think anyone was hurt (not sure), but it was scary and annoying.
As far as I know, no one reported this. Probably afraid of reprisals.
Coinciding with this, I was a new member of the Future Farmers of America chapter at my high school. We newbies were called “Green Hands”. For a week we were required to carry our books in a burlap sack, wear rope belts, and wear a green painted wooden hand around our necks. Kind of embarrassing, but neither painful nor lethal.
The next year, as I looked forward (well not really) to watching the new Green Hands have to do the same thing, wouldn’t you know it? They outlawed the practice as hazing. I was in the last class to do this, as far as I know.
So I took it that hazing was out after that.
But in more recent years, I talked to a guy who went to the same high school, but he was at least ten years or more younger than I. He described the same penny-throwing hazing thing during gym class.
That’s an example that shows simply making rules or laws against hazing does not cure the problem.
(I swear that I cannot recall whether when I was a senior that any of us threw pennies or metal slugs at the freshmen. I know that I did not — I never had a good throwing arm anyway — but it may have happened in some of the other classes.)
And why does the problem persist? It’s that veil of secrecy. And it is the fact that adults will sometimes counsel victims of hazing or other brutalities or indignities that complaining might just make things worse, due to reprisals.
I actually had this happen to me as a freshman. A giant, and I mean giant, bully flattened me. I was not seriously injured, but it did intimidate me and hurt my pride. I went to the school office and the vice-principal told me that he would call that bully in if I wanted him to but that his best advice would be to keep quiet because he could not guarantee my safety. I opted to leave it alone. I did not tell my parents (or maybe I did) because they would not have understood and would have gotten upset and having them go down to the school would not make things better for me. And for a male, a young man, society says you have to learn to take care of yourself. Well, to a certain extent I did. I had a couple of other encounters with bullies while I was in high school in which I stood up to them. In one incident the bully just backed down, in the other one I got what might be called an unfair advantage on the bully, but after that worried that he might catch me in a vulnerable position again. And if I had stood up to that first giant, I am not sure I’d have lived to write about it now.
There is something in society that tells people, I had it rough — we all had it rough when we were new, so we either take part in or keep mum about hazing.
But I am wondering if the biggest problem of all is that those in authority look the other way and aid and abet the bullies by counseling victims to keep their traps shut. They may both think that they are protecting the victims and protecting the reputation of the school or whatever by living in denial.
And that is all I want to say on the ugly subject.
Okay a little more:
Rituals that are short of violent hazing may be okay and even fun. My Green Hand thing was silly, but harmless. And the crossing the Equator thing in the Navy is a time-honored ritual (although not having been in the Navy, I don’t know if that gets violent, and if it does, then I would not call it good).
I imagine the recent news of sexual attacks on young boys at schools and sporting programs is all part of the abhorrent behavior talked about in this post too, but of course goes far beyond hazing or bullying.