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Anti-Hazing Steps in Schools
by Dennis Goodwin

Hazing... it’s one word that no coach, athletic director, principal, student athlete, parent or overall community member wants to hear about in their local school, high school, college or university.
In today’s society many pressures are put on young people; what to wear, how to live, and the number of followers and likes they get on social media are just a few of them. However, one of the greatest levels of status in a school or a campus is being part of an athletic program with a winning tradition or being part of an organization that promotes the feeling of being accepted by your fellow members. Therefore, the pressure on these potential athletes or club members to perform a hazing activity to become a part of the group is overwhelming.
A study conducted at the University of Maine by Dr. Elizabeth Allen and Dr. Mary Madden found that 47% of college students were hazed before entering college. In addition 95% of the students did not report the hazing and 22% reported that a coach, advisor or teacher was involved in the hazing activities.
So the question is what should the coach, athlete, or organization advisor do to build an environment that clearly recognizes the signs of hazing? What can be done to create an environment that teaches that hazing will not be tolerated in this community?

Steps to Address Hazing 

1. Attitude Change
Because 95-percent of hazing is not reported, knowing and addressing the reasons why must come first. Teachers, students, athletes, club members and coaching staff need to feel safe and compelled to speak up if they see hazing occurring. All schools should train their employees and students that if they see hazing occurring to report it anonymously. The school or program should then investigate thoroughly. We also need to change the scare tactic “Snitches Get Stitches” and replace that with the effective tactic of “See Something Say Something” for hazing incidents.
Secondly, organizations need to treat the person reporting the hazing incident as a hero. This person is doing the right thing by speaking out. It is important in athletics that we reward the winning coach or the athlete that is a team leader. We also believe we should reward the student athlete or member that speaks out about a hazing problem.

2. Bystander Intervention Training
Every year bystanders watch as hazing occurs. They should feel empowered to intervene instead. One elementary school study showed positive results from teaching intervention skills with regard to bullying behavior. Results were enhanced feelings of bystander responsibility, greater perceived adult responsiveness, and less acceptance of bullying or aggressive behavior (Frey, 2005).
Perhaps the most important step to eliminate hazing is to provide effective education and training for all coaches, student athletes, teachers, parents, administrators, etc. so they have the knowledge, skills and confidence to respond appropriately when hazing occurs.

3. The Boomerang Effect
This term describes old and fading attitudes of some alumni, colleagues, teammates, or community members that disagree with the decisions to discipline hazing. “Boys will be boys” is just one phrase that protects perpetrators and strives to normalize the behavior in question. The idea is to not admit guilt and fall back on the excuse that this has always been part of our culture.
The attitude is: “We have done this for years it can’t be wrong.” The “Boomerang Effect” needs to be put to rest and members of the school and overall community need to respect the decision to report and investigate hazing.

4. Proper Training on Anti Hazing Programs
We must establish an effective school and community wide means of reporting and investigating alleged hazing incidents and provide documenting procedures for the adjudication process. We need to address hazing rules annually and consistently.
Anti-hazing must start at the first contact with the student organization and be emphasized all year long.
Convincing coaches, teachers and students to change their attitudes about hazing is the first necessary step.
Following that up with appropriate action through education, safe reporting avenues and prompt and effective response will help people feel more comfortable coming forward. Again, faculty, coaches, administrators and students should be trained in recognizing the signs of hazing to understand why and where it is occurring.


Mr. Dennis Goodwin, co-founder of AHC, is a professionally licensed Science teacher in Massachusetts. He has over twenty years of teaching experience at the middle school, high school and community college levels. He also has been active in athletics for over 30 years as a lacrosse coach, basketball official and baseball umpire. Dennis has been training educators, administrators, coaches and parents across the country on hazing. His sense of humor and personal experiences allow the participants to understand the strategies that will help them recognize if hazing is occurring, how to prevent hazing, and what to do if hazing has spiraled out of control and has hit the news and social media. Dennis has been the keynote speaker at the Nevada Athletic Directors Association and Auburn University Anti Bullying Summit as well as speaking to groups including athletic teams and Greek Life groups throughout the country on hazing prevention.



What people are saying about the Anit-Hazing Collaborative

Very useful information with practical strategies

This topic is very relative to our issues we face as Athletic Directors

Insightful ideas, well presented… appreciated the real experience stories and honesty

We will incorporate this into our Health/Ed/Career freshman studies curriculum

Liked the book.. It has great ideas to use in both the classroom and the locker room

I am very interested in the strategies, I plan to use them when I get back to school

The presenter was very personable and encouraged group participation




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