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What parents need to know about hazing in Georgia

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

There’s no question that hazing is a serious and sometimes deadly problem across the country. While it’s largely associated with fraternities on and around college campuses, it can occur on sports teams made up of high school kids and those even younger. Private clubs and organizations sometimes also engage in hazing of new or prospective members. 

It’s not limited, as many people believe, to young men. Girls and women can be the aggressors as well as victims.

Much of the crackdown on hazing around the country centers on the organizations where it occurs, like universities and specific fraternities. While those accused of engaging in hazing can face a range of criminal charges based on their alleged actions, Georgia has a specific law against hazing. The law is named after a young Georgia college student who died from alcohol poisoning after a fraternity hazing at a school in another state back in 2017.

Georgia’s hazing law

The law defines hazing as “an activity which endangers or is likely to endanger the physical health of a student, or coerces the student…to consume any food, liquid, alcohol, drug, or other substance” that will likely cause them to become intoxicated, pass out and/or throw up “regardless of a student’s willingness to participate in such activity.” The law notes that this coercion can be done “through the use of social or physical pressure.”

Hazing itself is considered a “misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.” Of course, the penalties can be far more serious if someone is harmed or dies as a result of the hazing. Those involved in hazing often face charges related to underage alcohol use and drugs as well.

The law further provides requirements and regulations for colleges and universities. These include having written policies regarding the investigation and public reporting hazing incidents. This reporting, including information on their websites, can help prospective students and their parents and provide a strong incentive for them to do everything possible to prevent it. 

It’s all too easy for college students, even those who have never been in trouble, to make poor decisions as the result of alcohol, drugs, peer pressure and misguided allegiances. Sometimes those decisions involve not reporting illegal activity or stepping in to prevent it.

If your child has been charged with hazing and related offenses, it’s crucial to take those charges seriously. Even a misdemeanor conviction can affect their education and their career prospects. Having experienced legal guidance can protect their rights and their future.