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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: June 22, 2015 01:06 PM
From: Representative Ron Marsico
To: All House members
Subject: Anti-hazing Legislation
I am preparing a bill that will better protect students from harmful hazing rituals at Pennsylvania schools. I hope you will join me in showing your support and sponsoring this legislation.

Hazing is often defined as the practice of rituals or other activities involving abuse or humiliation to initiate a person into a team or group. Currently, 44 states have some version of anti-hazing laws. Pennsylvania too has such a law, which makes hazing a misdemeanor of the third degree, but Pennsylvania’s current law is limited to institutions of higher learning. Clearly the instances of hazing here in Pennsylvania, as well as across the country, are not limited to colleges or universities.

In recent years, allegations have surfaced about football players at Central Bucks West High School where players had engaged in pre-season hazing at the school that included a requirement that rookies grab another player’s genitals. Allegedly another hazing incident involved placing towels over players’ heads and leading them into the shower. In nearby New Jersey, multiple football team members at Sayreville War Memorial High School have been charged with sexual assaults on younger players that took place as part of an initiation rite. In 2011, two high school basketball players at Andover High School in Massachusetts were expelled and five were suspended for pressuring underclassmen to play a game where the loser was forced to eat a semen-soaked cookie.

In fact, studies from leading anti-hazing advocacy groups show that 47% of high school students experience hazing, and that it is reported by male and female students alike. Fully 25% of these students report having been the victims of hazing before the age of 13.

To address this problem, my bill will expand Pennsylvania’s anti-hazing law to apply to public and private secondary schools, as well as to organizations not affiliated with schools in which students still participate, such as private athletic leagues.

I think we can all agree that hazing is another form of bullying, which must be stopped. Traditional bullying involves singling out one individual at any time and bullying them as a means to exclude them. Hazing involves bullying someone to make them earn their way into a group or onto a team.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB1574