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Emory Law Review offers a balanced, sensible approach to curbing hazing

This is a truly comprehensive law journal article on hazing. I learned several things I did not know. Kudos.

Excerpt:

In order to sensibly discuss the problem of collegiate hazing, one should first attempt to quantify the problem. The available data suggests that collegiate hazing is extremely common—approximately half of all college students report experiencing behavior that may be considered hazing 12 —but perceptions of the number of hazing deaths are greatly inflated. Since 1970, on average, three hazing deaths occur each year in the United States. 13

As with other types of criminal activity, 14 there are two approaches to measuring incidents of collegiate hazing: compiling reports of hazing incidents and surveying individuals about their experiences with hazing. Both approaches must contend with two primary problems: the lack of a generally accepted definition of hazing 15 and the fact that most hazing is shrouded in secrecy. 16

1. Compiled Hazing Reports

There is no governmental or private organization that compiles statistics of hazing incidents, injuries, and deaths. 17 Instead, most of the literature on hazing relies on the work of journalism professor and anti-hazing activist Hank Nuwer, 18 who has compiled reports of collegiate deaths due to hazing since 1990. 19

Despite popular perception to the contrary, there is little evidence of a significant increase in hazing deaths in recent decades. Nuwer reports that from 1838 to 1969 there were thirty-nine collegiate hazing deaths. 20 There were twenty-six deaths in the 1970s, twenty-nine in the 1980s, twenty-eight in the 1990s, and thirty-five in the 2000s. 21 To put deaths due to hazing in context, from 2005 to 2012 there were on average 19.25 murders each year at American colleges and universities. 22

 

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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