In popular culture, hazing is generally seen as a way of groups to initiate new members into its ranks. In Pennsylvania, certain hazing activities1 are against the law.
Criminal hazing is when a person or a group forces a minor or student to violate a criminal law; eat or drink anything that would cause physical or emotional harm; participate in whippings, beatings, or other brutal physical activities; be subjected to mental or emotional brutality; be sexually brutalized; or perform any activity that causes or has a reasonable likelihood of physical injury.
A person can be charged and convicted of third-degree felony hazing if they violate the criminal hazing statute, cause serious bodily injury, and acts with reckless indifference to the health and safety of the other person or causes or forces the other person to eat or drink a drug or alcohol.
A group or organization that “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” encourages or helps its members commit criminal hazing or aggravated hazing can be charged and convicted of organizational hazing.
- Certain things that would be considered criminal hazing under the statute are allowed if they are “reasonable and customary athletic, law enforcement or military training, contests, competitions or events.” ↩