Law Office of Jack Kotchick

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Hazing continues to be a problem for schools

As the school season revs up at universities and colleges all across the nation, another seasonal event will soon follow: pledge week.

That's the week that fraternities and sororities indoctrinate their new pledges into "Greek" life -- putting them through a series of challenges that are designed to build a sense of community and weed out those less serious about joining.

For many students, though, pledge week turns into a nightmare. Hazing is still incredibly common on many campuses, despite the physical and legal dangers it involves.

In 2017 alone, there were at least three well-publicized deaths on campuses due to hazing. All three deaths, which occurred in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Florida, included fraternity events where senior fraternity members pushed pledges to drink massive quantities of alcohol. While nobody actually forced the pledges who died to drink, the social pressure to comply is extreme. Many young pledges fear being ostracized if they don't comply with their fraternity or sorority siblings' demands.

When hazing turns dangerous or deadly, however, it isn't just the pledges who will likely suffer. The legal consequences to everyone who is involved can be significant.

Fraternity and sorority members engaged in hazing rituals can end up being charged with a variety of crimes, perhaps the least of which is furnishing alcohol to someone who is underage. Hazing itself is a crime under New York state law -- but someone who is involved in a hazing situation that results in a death could potentially be charged with an even more serious crime, like manslaughter.

College is a time of exploration and growth. Parents no longer have any firm control over their young sons and daughters while they're away at school. However, that doesn't mean you can't sit your son or daughter down before school starts and educate him or her on the dangers of hazing. Too many think of hazing as "harmless fun" and don't realize the possible consequences of the act on their future.

If your son or daughter is charged in connection with a hazing incident, a defense attorney with experience in college crimes can evaluate the case and develop a response for both court and any judicial hearing by the school.

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Law Office of Jack Kotchick

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