Michigan Needs a Law Banning Hazing Incidents
The Detroit News, February 28, 2004
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Northville boy and a 16-year-old Detroit teen say they were
seriously injured after being hazed. All the teen wanted was to
be part of his band’s fraternity. The 12-year-old wanted to be
part of the football team.
The parents of the Detroit youngster are suing the Detroit
Public Schools for $5 million, but the mental and physical abuse
that accompanies hazing ought to be outlawed. It is too
dangerous to be tolerated — and utterly unnecessary.
State Sens. Michelle McManus, R-Leelanau, and Nancy Cassis,
R-Novi, introduced an anti-hazing bill last October. It was
assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review and should
Michigan is one of only seven states without anti-hazing laws.
The proposed bill defines hazing as “an intentional or reckless
act ... that endangers the mental and physical health or safety
of a person seeking to be initiated into or holding office” in
any organization. Hazing is usually associated with school and
college organizations, such as fraternities, sororities, teams
or social clubs.
The bill includes a clear definition of the physical and
psychological aspects of hazing — ranging from physical abuse to
public humiliation to the forced consumption of alcohol, drugs
Regardless of whether a victim voluntarily agreed to be hazed,
under the proposed law, those convicted of hazing could face
punishments that include prison sentences ranging from three
years to 20 years and up to $10,000 in fines.
Certainly, having an anti-hazing law won’t stop all instances of
abusive treatment. Illinois, for example, has such a statute.
Nevertheless, in an upper-class Chicago suburb last year, about
100 high school teens, mostly girls, were a part of a hazing
After at least one keg of beer, the junior girls were videotaped
being showered and smeared with pig intestines, paint thinner,
paint, household garbage, mud and human waste by the senior
girls, as well as beaten with fists and buckets.
But the videotape prompted the Illinois school district involved
to expel a number of students, and more than two dozen were
charged with various offenses.
It is true that injuries inflicted during hazing could lead to
charges under other parts of the criminal code, but the law is a
teacher; it declares what society will not tolerate. Michigan
needs an anti-hazing law that holds adults and students
responsible for the harmful initiation rites that remain a
senseless part of some school organizations.
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