What parents can do to protect their children from devastating effects of hazing

ByGreg Bailey KTRK logo
Monday, July 24, 2023
Hazing more prevalent and dangerous than ever, expert says
The allegations of hazing in the Northwestern football program have pulled back the curtain on the effects of a problem that experts say is worsening.

The hazing allegations inside the Northwestern football program frame up a conversation parents need to have with their children.

Dr. Susan Lipkins is a nationally recognized authority on hazing, and she told ABC13 the problem isn't going away.

"Hazing is alive and well, and from my point of view, it's been getting worse over the last two decades," she said.

Lipkins wants everyone to understand that hazing is a dangerous issue in our schools, athletic programs, and our colleges and universities.

"As we see in this case, it extends itself into the college programs in sports and in fraternities and sororities. And it will lead to and has led to death, physical harm, and lots and lots of psychological trauma," Lipkins said.

At Northwestern, former football players like Lloyd Yates allege hazing was so intense some players considered taking their own lives.

"The graphic, sexually intense behavior was well known throughout the program. We were physically and emotionally beaten down, and some players have contemplated suicide as a result," Yates said earlier this week.

RELATED: Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald fired; players speak on hazing allegations

Lipkins is not surprised by the allegations of hazing or the devastating effects it can have. She's studied the issue for two decades and has noted that hazing inside any organization or group often grows in intensity as one graduating class to the next adds more physical and sexual abuse.

"Social media may have also increased the degree and frequency and kinds of hazing that happened because somebody will say, 'Oh, they do that there. Let's add that to our hazing.' And so it grows and grows," Lipkins said.

She also adds that her extensive experience tells her that 95% of hazing is never reported.

ABC13 asked Lipkins what parents can do to protect their children.

She recommends the following:

Step 1: Talk to your child about hazing. Let them know it's not acceptable, and they can always say no, particularly when hazing involves physical or sexual abuse.

Step 2: Watch your child closely. If your child loves being on a sports team and then suddenly withdraws, it's time for an honest and supportive conversation.

Step 3: Ask your coach directly what he or she is doing to ensure hazing is not allowed.

Finally, report hazing. Lipkins said this step is essential even if it means reporting hazing anonymously. One of the real dangers of hazing is the threat that it will get worse if someone refuses to go along.

Lipkins points to the former players at Northwestern and their decision to take a public stand. "Maybe there will be a shift" that leads to an end to hazing and all the dangers that come with it.

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SEE ALSO: Parents of college student sue university after son died after hazing incident