For some, it’s a ritual they call “initiation.” For many others, it’s nothing but pain and humiliation. Researchers estimate that as many as 1.5 million high-schoolers have experienced some form of hazing.
Hazing is when a group requires you to do humiliating tasks to be included. Hazing is usually portrayed as harmless fun or an easy way to become accepted by others, but it often leaves lasting mental and physical scars.
Many students experience hazing, read true stories and statistics from the most extensive study on hazing below.
"As a new freshman on a band trip for the first time, I got my first taste of hazing. One morning, my friends and I were accused of going to some guy's room -- a room in which they found condoms -- the previous night after our assigned curfew. We never did went there. The worse thing was that the adults in charge also played along in the prank. They allowed the upperclassmen to isolate us and search through all of our personal belongings.
My friends and I were so embarrassed and horrified. After the upperclassmen interrogated and emotionally upset us, we were allowed to go downstairs to join the others for breakfast. Then, while we were eating we were informed that it was all a prank -- a joke. My fellow band members were allowed a little laugh at my friends' and my expense."
Mindy, 16, Florida
"My freshman year of high school, I tried out for the football team and made it. The only bad thing was that being on the team meant being treated like one of the guys. If I was a guy, it might have been easier.
I was beat up by them the first part of the season but I wouldn't let that get in my way of being a star athlete. The coaches eventually caught on to what was happening and put an end to the hazing. It was tough, but I would [join the team] again because it was an interesting life lesson."
Jennifer, 15, Texas
"Last year as a freshman, I was hazed constantly by the kids in our school band. It wasn't very funny to me, but to the people doing it, it seemed to be the highlight of their day. I had my music taken from me once. I was also hazed on a band trip. The people who did it waited for me to come out of the bathroom and then put shaving cream on me and said they were going to cut my hair off with a razor."
Curtis, 15, Texas
"I wanted to be in with a group of people at my old school. They were known as the cool group. They wanted me to go to someone that wasn't so cool and do something really mean to them, but I didn't feel right doing it. So instead of doing something bad to the person, I did a good thing -- I let that person hang out with me. Instead of getting in the cool group, I got a new, true friend and we are still friends."
Autumn, 13, Indiana
"In third grade, these girls that I really wanted to be friends with were starting a club. I asked them if I could be in it and they were like, "you have to take a test first." So I did. The questions were like, 'What's your favorite sport to watch?' and 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' They said I 'failed' the test, and that whole year they treated me horribly.
They pinched my skin, jumped on my back, threw baseballs at me and made me carry all their book bags. My life hasn't been the same since and I can still vividly remember those days when they treated me horribly."
Suzie, 14, Missouri
"I had never been in what people call the popular crowd up until this year. I now have several friends, but here's the problem. In order to get in the group, I had to be somebody totally different from who I really am.
I had to make fun of kids that I've hung out with for years, then totally disgrace my family by changing my personality into somebody who scares even me. I don't like what I have turned into. Hazing should be a crime no matter how it is done."
Michael, 16, Arizona
"A long time ago around here, the rule was that if you're a senior you could haze a freshman. But things got out of hand and that's no longer the case. But it's not like it still doesn't happen -- stuff like having to push a penny with your nose on ground and putting Vaseline in your hair."
Shauna, 15, Montana
"When I was a freshman, I was initiated by the seniors. It was a horrible experience that I will never forget. I was spanked with a large paddle and put through a car wash. It's wrong and disrespectful for seniors to do, especially since they're supposed to be role models."
Charlie, 17, Louisiana
"As freshmen at marching band camp, we were "initiated," but it was entirely optional. It was more a fun thing than humiliating. If we didn't want to do whatever was being asked of us or if we felt embarrassed, we didn't have to participate."
Leah, 16, Illinois
"When I was around 10 years old, I was hazed. I had to get beaten up in a bathroom to be allowed into this group. They said they were a gang. When they were done with me I had a lot of bloody scrapes and a broken jaw. I have moved to a different state since."
Tony, 14, Missouri
"I myself have never been hazed because I moved before it could happen. Where I used to live, the seniors would initiate/haze. My one friend was dropped in the high school fountain. And another person was made to push a penny up a ramp with his nose.
It was all fun and games until one year a freshman was put into his locker and was actually stuck in there for a whole day. They next morning the lock was cut so he could get out. The teachers say that they don't support it and that if you do it you'll get suspended. But no one has gotten in trouble yet and it still happens."
Amanda, 14, Ohio
"I was asked to hit one of my best friends in the face because my other friend told me that she wouldn't be my friend if I didn't. So I hit her twice -- broke her nose and gave her a black eye. I know I could have handled that better but I was trying to act cool. I talked it out with the friend that I hit and now we're still best friends. I'm not friends with the other girl. I'm glad my friend forgave me."
Kayla, 13, Rhode Island
"My friend was in a club and I asked if I could join. They said I would have to beat up a small kid who wouldn't leave them alone. I was about to beat him up but I saw how scared the kid was and let him go. In the end I still got in a fight with my so-called friends."
Robert, 13, North Carolina
"This actually happened to my brother. In order to get into a fraternity, he and some other people had to do some strange and disgusting stuff. He told me how he had to stand on a block of ice and say aloud the names of all the people who have been in the frat. If you messed up or fell off, you had to start again. He also told me how they were made to wrestle each other in a sewage pipe filled with waste. It doesn't sound like fun."
Joseph, 16, North Carolina
"As part of becoming a freshman last year, I was forced to do a lot of things I wasn't very comfortable with. Being the 'fresh meat' of the high school didn't exactly make things a whole lot easier. So this year, now that I'm a sophomore and in the class closest to the freshmen, I'm trying to help as many of them out as I possibly can, and make them feel a lot more comfortable than I did back then."
Brittany, 16, Missouri
"My freshman year we had to get paddled by the graduating seniors."
Eric, 17, Indiana
"Around our school, some of the varsity sports players who are upperclassmen will take the freshmen who make the team to lunch and leave them there so that they won't make it back for the second half of school."
Luke, 15, Colorado
"When I was 12, I wanted to join one of those cool girl cliques in elementary school. They said I could -- all I had to do was spray paint this girl's backpack. At the time, she was one of those weird goth girls so I was like 'okay, fine.'
Afterwards, I I saw her crying and felt really badly, so I apologized and bought her a new backpack. As for the clique, I decided not to be part of it. I actually ended up being friends with the girl I hurt. She is one of my best friends now."
Katie, 16, New Jersey
"When I was a freshman, we had to be 'initiated' into being on the school swim team. All the upperclassmen who were on the swim team kept talking about it like it would be horrible. We were so scared thinking we would have to do something incredibly out of control.
We got to school early in the morning like they had told us to do. It really wasn't that bad, because all they did was dress us up to look stupid for a day. It was actually kind of fun. This year, we get to do it to the new swimmers!"
Elizabeth, 15, Missouri
"For our academic team, we have a certain initiation ritual involving the playing of the computer game, Mario Kart, for 24 hours straight. Honestly, our hazing is not bad at all. It shows the true nature of hazing: the bond built between people, or emotional connection, created by a common experience."
Justin, 17, Oklahoma
"Once I wanted to be in this BMX club. But the head of the club said I had to do a big jump near the church we rode at. The jump was probably over 10 feet high and very steep. I practiced for a few minutes and then finally did it. I landed on my front wheel and flipped over. The bike bounced on me and cracked one of my ribs. Needless to say, I got in to the club."
James, 15, Tennessee
"It happened to a friend of mine. They would take a new person at school and put them in the trunk of a car. The person had an "emergency cord" they could pull, but was still locked in. After they locked the person in, they would drive down the roughest roads they could find.
They would pretty much go 4-wheeling with a person in the trunk. If the person stayed in there the entire time without pulling the cord they would let them in the 'group.' If they pulled the cord, they took them home and never talked to them again."