Involuntary ritual hazings

Other Names:
Humiliating initiation ceremonies
Hazing rituals
Institutionalized bullying
Victimization of institutional recruits
Running the gauntlet

People joining certain types of institution may be called upon to subject themselves to humiliating hazing rituals, possibly involving involuntary kidnapping, assault, wounding, and indecency. The rituals tend to be organized by a previous intake as when second year students perpetrate them on first year students at university. Such ritual ragging results in serious injuries or even accidental deaths. The victims may be left with psychological scars and long-term depression if they are unable to cope with such public displays of submission. Refusal to take part tends to result in treatment worse than degrading submission. Victims are severely sanctioned for reporting on their treatment to any authorities. In institutions these same authorities may turn a blind eye on such activities and may even collude in the ostracism of those who defy its instigators.


Humiliating initiation ceremonies occur in many institutional settings, notably military training camps, educational institutions, prisons, some workplace environments and gangs. In French universities, for example, although illegal since 1928 and specifically prohibited by the legal code, such practices remain immune to legal jurisdiction although they may continue for up to three months in any year. Any breach of the code of silence by the victims can result in their exclusion from refectories, halls of residence and student services. The insidious connections throughout the institutions administration may affect a student's final grades in the event of any defiance. Students may even be struck of any student-controlled register. Military academies practice the toughest form of hazings, followed by business schools and medical faculties. In street youth gangs, such initiations may require individuals to commit murder in cold blood to prove their worth as in the case of a Los Angeles candidate for gang membership who at the age of 11 was required to shoot several members of a rival gang. In the USA considerable publicity was given to the improper conduct, including sexual harassment, on the occasion of a convention in 1991 of the Tailhook Association, a private group of navy aviators. This included obliging women participants to "run the gauntlet".

Broader Problems:
Physical intimidation
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST