Do you have concerns about possible bullying or hazing behavior on your sports team? Are you concerned about whether certain “traditions” cross a line of health and safety?
Bullying and hazing are major issues
Bullying and hazing are major issues and require expertise in working to understand whether a situation has crossed a line into a potential health and safety issue. Historically, many have seen hazing as part of a set of rituals to help build team cohesiveness. There is a greater awareness today that these activities do not serve teams well in establishing positive team dynamics.
Bullying are a set of activities designed to exclude an individual from a team. The inappropriate behavior can be perpetrated by an individual or by a group but the target of the aggression is most often singled out. The aggression can be any combination of physical or verbal acts of intimidation, threats, rumors, teasing, taunting, name-calling, or ridicule.
Hazing is any action by a team with the intent to produce mental, emotional, or physical discomfort, embarrassment, or ridicule among for prospective or newer team members. Hazing often involves the entire time, unlike bullying that tends to involve a portion of the team.
Some of the forms that hazing can take include:
- making victims act in embarrassing or humiliating ways
- deprive individuals of sleep or restrict personal hygiene
- force victims to eat disgusting things
- swear and yell insults at victims
- physical hit team members
- forced excessive drinking
- sexually inappropriate behavior or assault
Confidential, neutral resource
SCI has deep experience in dealing with challenging, sensitive issues such as bullying and hazing. Typically, we begin with an assessment to understand what behavior may be of concern and then prescribe a clear path for ensuring a safe environment.
Assessment vs. Investigation
Where there are Title IX or other similar concerns, SCI works closely with any investigation teams, counsel, or other involved resources. SCI’s focus is about creating a deep understanding and a clear path forward whereas an investigation may be seeking culpability and liability. Both are important but different perspectives depending on the depth of the concerns involved. Often, the temptation is to focus on stopping the impermissible behavior (rightly) but it is also important to help re-establish a new set of traditions and team culture that replaces the impermissible bullying and hazing behavior.