Many high schools in the Salt Lake City area are going to be back in session soon, and with that come common pranks and more serious issues such as hazing.
Hazing common before college
Hazing is more known for its place in college fraternities, where students earn the right to be a part of a desired sorority. Unfortunately, hazing is finding its way among the younger crowd, with hazing rituals starting as early as freshmen year. According to stophazing.org, around half of all high school students will witness hazing before they graduate as seniors.
Physically and emotionally damaging
While a good majority of new student or senior rituals are harmless, what is defined as hazing can have lasting effects to high school students’ health and well-being. For this reason, hazing is against the law. Utah code 76-5-107.5 states that “A person is guilty of hazing if that person [for the purpose of initiating another into a group or team] intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly commits an act or causes another to commit an act that:
• endangers the mental or physical health or safety of another;
• involves any brutality of a physical nature such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, electric shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or exposure to the elements;
• involves consumption of any food, alcoholic product, drug, or other substance or any other physical activity that endangers the mental or physical health and safety of an individual; or
• involves any activity that would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, extended isolation from social contact, or conduct that subjects another to extreme embarrassment, shame, or humiliation.[…]”
Hazing penalties can range from a class B misdemeanor from simple hazing to a 2nd degree felony if a weapon is involved. As Salt Lake City students return to school, they need to refrain from being involved with hazing of any kind and report it to school officials immediately. Those high school students found guilty of hazing should contact a juvenile defense attorney.