High School Hazing and Personal Injury

While there is often intense pressure during the high school years to stand out among peers in order to be accepted into colleges and universities, there is also intense pressure on teens to fit in and ‘belong’ with their fellow students. There are many different types of social groups for young people to join and be a part of, many of which have strict spoken or unspoken requirements for membership. Stunts, dares, and challenges can be a harmless way for teens to show off and have fun, but they can also cross a line. Hazing on high school campuses can result in serious and even life threatening personal injuries, and while it is illegal in most school, hazing incidents continue to be popular.

Hazing on High School Campuses

While some students consider hazing as a harmless ritual and a rite of passage that lower classmen have to endure, increasing numbers of parents, school administrators, and students themselves have begun to speak out against the practice. HazingPrevention.org is a national organization that seeks to raise awareness of the dangers of hazing, as well as what students and adults can do to stop it. The website states that hazing is considered to be any kind of action or event meant to cause embarrassment, ridicule, and physical or emotional harm to a person or group of people, regardless of whether those being hazed consent to the act or not. Hazing can occur among the following groups:

  • Athletic teams and cheerleading squads;
  • Honor societies and other academic groups;
  • Special interest social groups;
  • Greek life organizations.

According to HazingPrevention.org, two out of every five students are aware of groups that use hazing on their high school campus, and a large number of hazing injuries and deaths are related to the forced overconsumption of alcohol. Other types of incidents include forced beatings, being required to perform dangerous stunts, and being pressured to perform assaults on others, including sexual assaults.

Hazing Injuries and Potential Penalties

HazingPrevention.org states that roughly three quarters of those who are either forced or willingly participate in hazing suffer negative consequences, and the types of injuries and harm that can result from these incidents can be severe and, in some cases, fatal. Examples of hazing injuries include:

  • Psychological harm, including post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Sleep problems and digestive ailments as the result of stress;
  • Depression, and suicidal behavior;
  • Alcohol poisoning and accidents resulting from overconsumption;
  • Broken arms, muscle strains, and head injuries;
  • Injuries due to sexual assaults.

Those involved in hazing incidents may face penalties from the school, including expulsion, and may be held liable for the damages they have caused through personal injury lawsuits. In cases involving assaults, participants may also face criminal charges. According to a May 2016 KTVB news report, three Dietrich football players are being sued by the parents of a teammate who was sexually assaulted during a hazing incident. The Dietrich Attorney General has advised prosecuting the teens involved in the assault under the state’s hate laws.

Let Us Assist You Today

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as the result of a hazing incident, contact our experienced Portland personal injury attorneys today. At the Johnston Law Firm, we can advise you on how to hold responsible parties accountable for the damages they have caused, and assist you in getting the compensation you need to recover. Get the professional, compassionate legal representation you deserve, and call or contact us online today for a free consultation.

Thanks to our friends and blog authors from Johnston Law Firm for their insight into high school hazing and personal injury claims.