Did you know that 47% of students experience hazing even before college? For example, in 2014, seven New Jersey high school football players faced hazing charges, as their town’s newspaper reported. If that weren’t enough, statistics from StopHazing.org show that 3 in 5 students experience hazing in college. Many students see hazing a chance to party and drink. The fact is, it can be reckless, dangerous and, in some tragic incidents, deadly. Familiarize yourself and your teenagers with Ohio hazing laws and talk to them about the risks.
What Qualifies as Hazing in Ohio?
Ohio is one of 44 states with hazing laws, according to the Student Conduct division of The Ohio State University. The act can be one that causes either physical or mental harm to the victim. Most people associate hazing with sororities and fraternities, but other kinds of organizations might engage in it, too.
In Ohio hazing is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The punishment is up to 30 days in prison and a $250 fine. The school, of course, can also choose to suspend or expel the perpetrator(s). However, there is a sizable loophole in the definition. If you take a look at this article from Dayton Daily News, you’ll see that the law only prevents hazing for initiations. This does not punish organizations from hazing second-year members or returning members who have taken a hiatus from the group or organization.
Ohio Hazing Laws
State lawmakers have tried to curb hazing. The laws, however, have not been updated since the 1980s.
The Ohio Revised Code 2903.31 on Hazing — enacted March 3, 1983 and never amended — states: “As used in this section, ‘hazing’ means doing any act or coercing another, including the victim, to do any act of initiation into any student or other organization that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm to any person.”
What Are Lawmakers Doing?
Some lawmakers, like State Sen. Kevin Bacon, sees a need to strengthen the laws. He believes hazing should become a misdemeanor in the first degree, increasing jail time up to 180 days and fines to $1,000. Bacon also wants to do away with the loophole. He doesn’t want to just criminalize initiation hazing. He wants all hazing rituals criminalized.
Bacon first introduced this bill on September 25, 2018. He told Springfield News-Sun that he feels, “Those who perpetrate hazing crimes should continue to be held accountable.”
Do You Believe Your Child Has Been a Victim of Hazing?
The law allows victims to file a civil suit against the individuals forcing the hazing, the organization and any leaders of the organization allowing the hazing. The plaintiff is permitted to seek recompense for the injuries, both mental and physical, incurred during the illegal act. If you are looking to file a civil suit, please contact the attorneys at Rapier and Bowling.