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How Hazing Works by Dave Roos

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Hazing has a long history in civilization. Many cultures have some kind of initiation rite that a boy undergoes to become a man, which some psychologists consider a form of hazing. Plato observed hazing among college students in the 4th century B.C.E. In 1340, the University of Paris had to forbid hazing on pain of expulsion. The first example of a hazing death was John Butler Groves in 1838 at Franklin Seminary in Kentucky, according to a family history [source: Nuwer].

Hazing primarily exists in groups that are regularly recruiting new members. College fraternitiesare a great example, because they lose a batch of seniors to graduation every spring and the ranks need to be filled by new freshman in the fall. The same annual “restocking” process happens in high school marching bands, college sports teams, the military, school theater groups and fire departments.

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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