SIX STEPS FOR PREVENTING HAZING ON YOUR TEAM
Here are six steps that you can and must take to greatly minimize the chances that a hazing incident will occur on your team.
1. Develop Strong, Positive, Responsible Leaders
It always puzzles me when schools are looking for an anti-hazing speaker or program. When it comes right down to it, what these schools really want and need are positive, responsible, and proactive leaders who will not plan or permit any hazing. Invest the time to develop strong leaders who aren't afraid to step up and speak out against hazing.
2. Provide Positive Alternatives to Hazing
Ironically, some team leaders believe that hazing promotes team building, when in actuality it undermines it. If team building is what they are after, then there are a variety of positive team building ideas that leaders can use like team dinners, movie nights, ropes courses, camping trips, whitewater rafting, laser tag, team building challenges, etc. As a coach, you can either organize these team building ideas or empower your team leaders to do so.
3. Meet with Your Leaders and Team to Discuss Your Views and Policy on Hazing
Make sure your leaders and team members know in no uncertain terms that hazing will not be tolerated in your program/school. Let your leaders know that you are holding them accountable to prevent and diffuse any potential hazing incidents BEFORE they happen. Be clear that the consequences for them and the team will be quite severe if they do not heed your warning.
(Remember, if you suspect hazing may occur at a party, yet say nothing, your athletes in effect will likely believe that you condone the behavior.)
4. Cite Examples of Initiations Gone Bad
To help the message sink in to your athletes, you might consider giving your leaders examples of teams that have lost teammates and/or seasons because of hazing incidents. Calling attention to these real-life examples is especially important if you believe your athletes have a careless attitude toward hazing. These terrible, yet practical examples can help them understand the seriousness of the situation.
5. Install a Buddy System
Pair up your newcomers with one of your veteran athletes. Let the veteran know that they are in charge of helping the newcomer survive and thrive in the new environment. You want to create a situation where the older teammate acts as a big brother/sister for the younger one and looks out for him/her. Impress upon the veteran that they must always look out for and protect their younger teammate.
6. Encourage Your Newcomers to Report Any Anticipated or Actual Hazing
Let your newcomers know that you want them to come to you immediately if they anticipate or experience any hazing. Obviously most will be unlikely to do so because they want to fit in to the team and the last thing they want is their teammates to view them as a tattletale. However, be sure that they too know that you have zero tolerance for hazing.
While unfortunately these suggestions can never guarantee that you won't have a hazing incident, proactively using these suggestions provides you with the best insurance policy against it.
In addition to the above suggestions, I've provided some links below of some fabulous resources on hazing prevention.
Hank Nuwer - a leading expert on hazing http://hazing.hanknuwer.com/