Electronic Bullying and Hazing
Possibly. If you repeatedly send texts, emails, Facebook messages, or other electronic posts or messages to someone under 18 that insult, taunt, or intimidate (frighten) that person you may have committed the crime of harassment. These messages (known as cyberbullying) will be considered criminal harassment if the messages are written in a way that makes the person receiving them reasonably afraid he or she might be physically injured. If you send such messages you may be charged with a crime.
Hazing is the abusive treatment of others as part of initiation into a group, or of newer members of a group, using physical, mental, or emotional harm. One example of hazing can be found in schools when older high schoolers haze incoming freshman. Another example of hazing can be when gang members haze a new member as an initiation into the gang. The person doing the hazing may associate their behavior with some sort of tradition. However, since hazing involves some form of harm, it might lead to school discipline or involvement with law enforcement. This can be true regardless of whether the person experiencing the hazing was willing to take part.
Since hazing involves the use of physical, mental, or emotional harm, it likely violates school policy, and it may also be against the law.
Most schools have a student code of conduct that is available for students to read. Hazing is usually listed as some form of prohibited conduct. The school may discipline students who are caught hazing. This can include suspension or expulsion. If a school wants to discipline you for hazing, make sure you are aware of the school discipline procedures.
A school may also contact the police if they think that the hazing was harassment, involved an assault, or broke some other law. If the police contact you, make sure you understand your rights. This includes asking to speak to an attorney before talking to law enforcement, and the right to have a parent or guardian present for any meeting with law enforcementIt is important to remember that school discipline and law enforcement involvement is not an either/or situation. A school may punish you and the police may also be involved for the same incident. This is especially true if the school has a school resource officer involved in the investigation.
As mentioned above, hazing is a violation of the student code of conduct for many schools. Schools are required to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for their students and should investigate any complaint of hazing and act to stop it. If you are experiencing hazing at school, at a school event, or on your way to and from school, you can report it to a teacher, counselor, or at the office. You may also choose to talk to a parent, guardian, or safe adult about being hazed.
If you feel that the hazing you are experiencing rises to the level of harassment, assault, or another crime, you may also contact the police. You may also want to contact the police if the hazing you are experiencing is not taking place at school. Be sure to check out the page If You Are the Victim of a Crime for more information about the resources available to you.