When kids go off to college, they can face a whole new level of peer pressure as they try to fit in with new people now that they’re away from their old friend groups from high school. That peer pressure, combined with easier access to alcohol and drugs, can lead college students to engage in unwise – and illegal – behavior. One of the most potentially dangerous examples involves hazing.
Hazing rituals are most closely associated with fraternities. However, athletic teams and other groups can subject potential or new members to them as well. Too many have ended in fatalities. Consequently, multiple states, including Georgia have enacted laws that specifically address hazing.
How does Georgia law define hazing?
The law defines hazing as anything that “endangers or is likely to endanger the physical health of a student or coerces the student through the use of social or physical pressure to consume any food, liquid, alcohol, drug, or other substance which subjects the student to a likely risk of vomiting, intoxication, or unconsciousness regardless of a student’s willingness to participate in such activity.” Further, it states that it’s unlawful to engage in hazing “in connection with or as a condition or precondition of gaining acceptance, membership, office, or another status in a school organization.”
The law applies to the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia as well as any “private postsecondary school, college, or university in this state.” These schools are required to have policies in place for reporting and investigating hazing and to notify students and the public about hazing incidents at the school on their websites.
What does a hazing charge involve?
A charge of hazing is a “misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature” under Georgia law. Of course, if someone dies or is seriously harmed or killed as a result, those alleged to be responsible can face even more serious charges.
In situations where a large group is involved, like a fraternity or a team, it can be difficult to determine the culpability of individuals in that group. There’s likely to be a lot of finger-pointing. Fortunately, these days there’s also plenty of cellphone and surveillance video that can give a clearer picture of what happened. If your child is facing hazing and related charges, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance to help protect their rights and their future.