Hazing | Health | Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association



What is Hazing?

Wisconsin Hazing Law

948.51 Hazing.

(1) In this section "forced activity" means any activity which is a condition of initiation or admission into or affiliation with an organization, regardless of a student's willingness to participate in the activity.

(2) No person may intentionally or recklessly engage in acts which endanger the physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating in connection with a school, college or university. Under those circumstances, prohibited acts may include any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug or other substance, forced confinement or any other forced activity which endangers the physical health or safety of the student.

(3) Whoever violates sub. (2) is guilty of: 

(a) A Class A misdemeanor if the act results in or is likely to result in bodily harm to another.

(b) A Class E felony if the act results in great bodily harm or death to another.

Definition of Hazing

The National Federation defines hazing as any humiliating or dangerous activity expected of a student to belong to a group, regardless of their willingness to participate.

Some practices associated with high school hazing carry the potential for serious bodily harm or even death. These practices may include: tattooing, piercing, head-shaving, branding, sleep deprivation, physical punishment (paddling and "red-bellying"), "kidnapping," consuming unreasonable/unacceptable foods or beverages, being deprived of personal hygiene and/or inappropriate sexual behavior.

Coerced sexual activity, in addition to being classified as sexual assault and/or rape, is another form of hazing. Such activity puts victims at risk for injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.

Alcohol abuse is another significant factor in hazing incidents that feature forced consumption of large amounts of alcohol.

What to do about Hazing?

Become thoroughly familiar with your school's policies on hazing. If you're an administrator, check out your state DPI guidelines.

Look for language in the policy that prohibits hazing both on and off school property and during or after regular school hours.

Talk to your students about what constitutes hazing, the consequences of hazing, and your unwillingness to tolerate any form of hazing on your team or group. Make sure all students and parents are familiar with the hazing policy, and know what behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate. Take many opportunities to prevent hazing by promoting respect, teamwork, and fair play.

Include the hazing policy in the athletic/activity code of conduct. Have all parents and students sign this code before the student is allowed to participate in athletic and/or activities.

Use pre-season meetings with students and parents as an opportunity to review your school's philosophy about hazing and the rules and consequences for hazing.

Make sure students and parents know that whether or not a person voluntarily participates in a hazing activity does not matter.

Keep a log of all activities you have done to prevent hazing. Your own reputation and that of your school's may depend on your ability to demonstrate that you have done what you can to prevent hazing. You cannot always control the actions of your students, but you must be able to demonstrate that you have done what you can to protect the safety of all students.