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'OUT OF CONTROL' HAZED & CONFUSED Real-life risks are sobering
New book offers parents advice on how to protect kids from hazing

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Date published: 9/26/2006


Hazing extends far beyond the walls of college fraternities and sororities.

High school and middle school kids joining marching bands, cheerleading squads, debate teams and even church youth groups experience it.

In a new book, psychologist Susan Lipkins tells parents, teachers and coaches what they can do to prevent hazing.

The practice is centuries, perhaps thousands of years old, but she said it's become more dangerous over the last decade.

"It's becoming more violent, more demeaning and more sexual," she told The Free Lance-Star during a telephone interview.

This is National Hazing Prevention Week.

And this month, Lipkins' "Preventing Hazing: How Parents, Teachers and Coaches Can Stop the Violence, Harassment and Humiliation," was published by Jossey-Bass.

Despite media attention focused on hazing in recent years, she said that "as the entire society becomes more violent," perpetrators actually feel pressure to make hazing more extreme each year.

There's more competition in life on a global basis, she said, meaning "everybody is competing," even in school.

"When competition increases, so does aggression," she said, "and we see it in young people."

Because of that, she said, "Hazing is one thing that has grown in violence."

She said that can translate into "another 10 paddles, another 100 paddles," or worse.

"It's skidded out of control," she said.

Coerced alcohol and drug use is a growing problem in hazing, she said, with alcohol sometimes being poured down the throats of initiates.

Drinking in the hazing

According to Hank Nuwer, author of "Wrongs of Passage: Fraternities, Sororities, Hazing and Binge Drinking," the majority of college hazing incidents continue to involve the coerced drinking of dangerously large amounts of alcohol in spite of efforts to stop that tradition.

Alfred (N.Y.) University began doing scholarly studies of hazing after pledge Chuck Stenzel died at a fraternity house there in 1978.

In an anti-hazing speech, his mother, Eileen Stevens, said: "He was kidnapped from his dorm, locked in a car trunk in freezing weather with the other pledges, and forced to consume a lethal mix of bourbon, wine and beer."

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