Study Examines Gender Differences in Hazing Among High School Students

A new study led by Elizabeth Allan, a professor of higher education in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Maine, found that a hazing prevention workshop for high school athletes was effective at increasing students’ knowledge of hazing and making them more receptive to prevention measures. In interviews with participants, the researchers also found gendered perceptions and themes of power and status around issues of hazing and prevention.

Hazing is defined as any activity that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers a person who joins or participates in a group, such as a team or club, regardless of whether the person willingly participates in the activity.

Researchers gave a questionnaire to students at two high schools in Maine. They then conducted a workshop on hazing awareness and then administered a second questionnaire. The researchers returned to the high school two months laters to hold focus groups to determine the level and severity of hazing at the schools.

The focus groups showed that participants at one school did not feel there was any difference in hazing behavior between genders. A majority of participants at the other school said they thought hazing occurred more among boys than girls. That group also chalked up perceived differences in hazing behaviors between genders to issues of identity and personality.

The authors concluded that “having a policy in handbooks is not enough. Educators must consider additional strategies for shifting hazing attitudes and behaviors. Given their knowledge of the school climate and relationships with individual students and colleagues associated with co-curricular activities, school counselors are well-positioned to advocate for more comprehensive and research-informed prevention at the school level.”

Professor Allan holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in health education and promotion from Springfield College in Massachusetts. She earned a Ph.D. in educational policy and leadership at Ohio State Univerity.

The study, “High School Hazing Prevention and Gender: Implications for School Counselors,” may be downloaded by clicking here.

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