Hazing is a tradition in high schools and colleges where older students make demands on incoming freshmen. These demands are often humiliating and can even be life-threatening in some instances. Very Well Family explains the differences between bullying and hazing so school staff and parents can take the proper actions to prevent potentially harmful events from occurring.

The key difference between bullying and hazing is the outcome for the victim. With bullying, the overall goal is to keep a person out of a group, whether that’s a group of friends or a school club of some kind. Conversely, hazing is a way to evaluate a person’s willingness to fit in with the group. That’s not to say that hazing is a more positive occurrence or even a healthy way to welcome people into a group. In many cases, the victims of hazing are just as psychologically distressed as people who’ve experienced bullying in a traditional sense.

Hazing behavior can also become quite elaborate. While bullying involves insults and threats of violence, hazing incorporates these behaviors but also involves tests or games that prove the victim’s loyalty. For instance, a person may be asked to eat disgusting food or be asked to go without sleep for days in a row. Some groups take it even further by beating or branding the victim, both of which cause severe physical harm.

Both bullying and hazing can be reduced by parental input. The more confident a child is, the more likely he or she will resist coercive behavior by others. Ingoing college students must also understand that entry into an exclusive group isn’t worth risking one’s health and well being. Kids that are prone to bullying behaviors should be made aware of the possible consequences of these activities and the risk involved, especially when it comes to injury and loss of life.