Every year when the school year begins, a new class of freshmen becomes acquainted with the strange and time-honored traditions of hazing that exist on high school and college campuses.
Like veterans and childhood abuse survivors, some hazing alums believe that these barbaric practices serve to draw new students closer to a tight-knit community. But this reasoning is often a thin veneer for what's essentially criminal activity.
Not convinced? Check out these five ways in which hazing can potentially get you arrested.
1. Hazing Can Kill.
Unfortunately, every year college students are killed by the hazing rituals that their fraternities or organizations hold so dear. The lion's share of them include binge drinking, which can lead to death.
Forcing a pledge or new initiate to guzzle heroic amounts of libations or running a medieval-style gauntlet may be steeped in tradition, but that tradition will seem a little less rich when you're sitting in a holding cell awaiting a verdict in your manslaughter case.
2. On the Hook for Minors.
As hazing often involves minors committing illegal acts, it is important to remember that adults who persuade minors to commit crimes can be found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. This can even hold true for 18-year-old high school seniors who contribute to the delinquency of underclassmen.
3. Booze, Booze, Booze.
Hazing and alcohol seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. But a drunken hazing ritual involving anyone under the age of 21 can end with every participant being arrested for serving alcohol to minors.
Not only can hazing victims and participants be slapped with minor in possession charges, but their hazing masters can be arrested under separate laws, like California's, for providing that alcohol to a minor.
4. Hazing Itself Is Illegal in Most States.
In states like New York, there are specific statutes that criminalize hazing, meaning prosecutors won't have to think creatively about what criminal acts apply so long as the hazing itself was reckless and caused injury to the victim.
Forty-four states now have some form of anti-hazing law, according to StopHazing.org, making it even easier to get arrested for hazing in all but six states.
5. Accessories Are Still Guilty.
Don't think that keeping your hands clean of the actual hazing in your organization will protect you from having your willfully ignorant rear-end thrown in the slammer.
Accessories to hazing can be found guilty just as easily as the actual perpetrators, regardless of whether participation is before or after the hazing occurred.
School organizations can be very fulfilling, but hazing traditions can give your education a case of arrested development.