The stories are all-too familiar. A 19-year-old Pennsylvania State University sophomore dies after participating in a hazing ritual at the Beta Theta Pi house. In another incident, an 18-year-old Baruch College freshman dies in a 2013 fraternity initiation. Hazing deaths have also occurred at Fresno State, Northern Illinois University, and other colleges. In fact, since 1970, there has been at least one hazing-related death on college campuses every year.
Hazing, defined as the forced abuse, either physical or mental, a student must endure to gain admittance into an organization, is illegal in 44 of 50 states.
Hazing isn’t the only thing parents should address with their college freshmen. It’s important to keep in mind that the first few weeks of college are a risky time. Many kids are independent for the first time and living with people they don’t know. Research shows this is a high-risk time for depression, alcohol abuse, and sexual assault.
Alcohol has long been a staple of the college experience and the beginning of freshman year is a vulnerable time for heavy drinking and alcohol-related consequences. The best things parents can do is talk to their children about alcohol use and its adverse consequences. It is also advisable to set up Uber and Lyft accounts for your college students to help prevent drinking and driving.
Drinking is also a factor in many campus sexual assaults as a student’s ability to assess risk or sense that she or he might be in a vulnerable situation is impaired. Give your teen practical tips for getting to know someone new. Do you have friends in common? Do you know where they live?
In addition, more than half of all college students report feeling stress, anxiety, and depression. Experts urge parents to listen to their freshmen, noting red flags like major changes in their sleep or activities, and to make certain their child knows where to seek help, if needed. It’s important to be mindful that college is a time of adjustment for students.
While the risks of alcohol, sexual assault and stress can be frightening keeping the lines of communication open about difficult-to-discuss topics is a parent’s most important role during the college years.
If your child or someone you care about has been involved in an incident while on campus, contact Rosenberg & Gluck, personal injury attorneys, for a free, confidential legal consultation to learn more about your options.