A wide variety of techniques are used in hazing. Many hazing rituals involve humiliation, embarrassment, abuse, and harassment. Inductees may be subjected to a single “hell night” in which they go through a series of rituals, or a “hell week,” a prolonged hazing in which they must be constantly ready for new orders from older members of the organization. For example, new members of a sports team might be obliged to carry pagers so that they can be summoned to hazing events, or new fraternity pledges might be required to salute all current fraternity members whenever they encounter them during hell week, in addition to participating in hazing events in the evening.
Some organizations pass down venerable hazing traditions, while others develop their own. The potential dangers of hazing can be both physical and psychological. In sororities, for example, a common hazing practice involves ordering new pledges to strip to their underwear so that they can be judged by older sorority members, which may be humiliating or dangerous for women who are struggling with body image issues. Hazing challenges in which people are dared to drink large amounts of alcohol or to engage in dangerous physical stunts can also be very risky, and in some cases, deadly.
The history of hazing is ancient, with documented cases dating to at least the 1600s. This may explain why no tolerance policies on hazing are often unsuccessful, because such policies only work when people refuse to engage in hazing ceremonies, and report attempted hazing to officials. New inductees are often afraid or reluctant to discuss or report hazing activities, making it difficult for officials to enforce hazing bans.
People who do take the initiative to report or refuse hazing may find themselves ostracized. For newcomers who are trying to fit into an organization, the potential for rejection from the group is sometimes viewed as far more unpleasant than the hazing. Some institutions have established anonymous hazing tip lines to encourage people to report hazing confidentially. Dangerous hazing practices should always be reported, as human life is far more important than fitting in.