Hazing has been an aspect of high school, college and military academies for centuries. But as hazing has become increasingly severe in recent years, more and more cases are being brought to court attention.

Some examples:

Earlier this year two young women at Penn State pled guilty to assault and harassment charges. A third was convicted of summary harassment.

Around the same time a hazing probe into a high school baseball team led the head coach to step down. A player had been restrained and bitten by teammates, allegedly.

Meanwhile the Philadelphia Inquirer has taken aim at the University of Pennsylvania by reporting the disturbing trend: “fraternities compete for mates with harsher hazing…”

But whereas institutions have been remarkably quiet and inactive in enforcing anti-hazing policies historically, the increasing attention has caused more real action. Last year the student government was found to be in violation of the school’s no-hazing policy by an internal investigation. The investigation was spurred by a guest posting in the school newspaper.

After the conclusion of the investigation led to the finding of a breach in school policy, the school’s executive director of the Office of Student Affairs pointed out to the Daily Pennsylvanian: “Hazing is inconsistent with the goals and purposes of the University and, in accordance with state law, is explicitly forbidden.”

The number of court cases and probes in the last year marks the beginning of a statewide effort to reduce hazing practices – possibly. But in order to be successful, the real effort needs to trickle down to the students. That is, students need to support peers who report hazing at their institutions. And students who suffer from hazing activities need to have the courage to come forward, if not for themselves, then for the countless other lives who will be damaged if hazing continues to silently damage the lives of countless students.

My office recently helped a client bring Valley Forge Military Academy to justice, and my client was compensated for his medical expenses, tuition, as well as psychological damages resulting from being hazed. So we know what hazing can do, and we would be happy to listen to your case. If you believe you or someone you know might be the victim of hazing, please contact The Law Offices of Thomas More Holland today by filling out a simple form, or by calling (215) 592-8080.

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