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Hazing generally includes mistreatment of students or other persons (pledges or plebes) in a ritualistic or tradition-based way that must be endured by the prospective members to gain admission to a group, club, or organization. The members doing the hazing often attempt to justify these hazing practices by referring to them as a rite of passage or rationalizing that all current members had to endure it and new prospective members should as well.

Hazing can take many forms, including:

• Requiring victims to act as a personal servant to senior (older) group members

• Forcing victims to binge drink or consume large amounts of alcohol or drugs

• Requiring victims to engage in embarrassing acts, such as wearing a costume or sign around their neck in public

• Depriving victims of sleep, food, or the ability to use the restroom

• Prohibiting victims from associating with family, friends, or other persons

• Swearing or yelling insults at victims.

Most schools have policies against hazing and in many states hazing may be prosecuted as a criminal offense if it results in bodily injury.

In Texas, hazing is a criminal offense under the Texas Education Code, Sections 37.151 through 37.157, and the Texas Penal Code. The law defines hazing as any intentional, knowing, or reckless act occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization. The acts listed, such as requiring servitude, forced consumption of alcohol or drugs, engaging in humiliating acts, sleep deprivation, and isolation from social contacts, can all potentially fall under the definition of hazing if they meet the criteria set forth by the law. Texas law also requires that organizations and institutions take certain steps to combat hazing, and failure to report hazing is also an offense. Penalties for hazing range from fines to jail time, depending on the severity of the act and whether it resulted in serious bodily injury. Educational institutions in Texas are also required to adopt their own hazing policies, which may include disciplinary measures in addition to any criminal penalties.

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