Hazing Versus Team Building: How Can Parents Prevent the Abuse?

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By Brianna Siciliano

When involved in sports, people often find themselves trying to “prove that they deserve to be on the team.” Many people who perpetrate hazing feel that new teammates need to be aggressive so that they can be initiated into the group. Hazing, however, is the worst way to handle a situation like this. Team building and hazing are very, very different. 

Team building promotes respect, dignity, pride, and integrity while creating lifelong, positive memories. Hazing, on the other hand, is a power trip that humiliates, degrades, and shames players. It creates division and lifelong nightmares to players that are being abused.

As parents, it is important to think about your childhood. Did you undergo some sort of hazing when you were younger? If not, imagine what it would be like if you were a victim to hazing. Imagine being in your child’s shoes, repeatedly being teased, pushed around, made fun of, shut out, and bullied. Imagine feeling isolated and tormented by other teammates, and imagine wanting to quit the team because of the bullying. Every player on every sports team should feel safe. It is not okay for teammates to bully one another.

Preventing hazing and promoting team building is a shared responsibility for administrators, coaches, parents, and players. The best way to prevent hazing is by informing children what hazing is and what the consequences are. If you are trying to think of healthy, bully-free ways for the children to bond, try having team dinners, movie nights, or ice cream outings so that the kids can bond in a healthy environment. Children on sports teams should never have to prove that they have the right to be treated with dignity and respect; mutual respect should be a number one goal for every sports team.