Humiliating initiation ceremonies
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".
Many initiation ceremonies are conducted and experienced in a spirit of good humour. They are a valuable means of breaking in new conscripts and inculcating in them the values, codes and ideas of the institution. Once over, and reconciled with the perpetrators, the victims tend to forget the humiliation and any resentment and are proud of having been tested in that way. They are then especially enthusiastic about offering the experience to the following intake. Hazings teach a certain humility, and respect for institutional codes, which is valuable in life. Excessive and dangerous initiations are isolated phenomena resulting from the tendency of some individuals to exceed the limits.