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What is Hazing?

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The Department of Defense (DoD) defines hazing as "a form of harassment that includes conduct through which Service members or DoD employees, without proper military or other governmental purpose, but with a nexus to military service, physically or psychologically injure or create a risk of physical or psychological injury to Service members for the purpose of initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, change in status or position within, or continued membership in any military DoD civil organization" (2018).

Examples include "oral or written berating of another person to belittle or humiliate; playing abusive or malicious tricks; encouraging another person to engage in illegal, harmful, demeaning, or dangerous acts."


Why is Prevention Important?


The DoD issued a report addressing hazing prevention and response in the Armed Forces, outlining the need-based motivation for hazing prevention regarding its negative impact on mission readiness.

The report reflects on hazing as "an affront to department values," acknowledging that the act of hazing violates basic human dignity and adversely affects unit cohesion and trust of Service members. These weaknesses in unity jeopardize combat readiness and inhibit mission accomplishment (DoD, 2018).

Hazing is uniquely important in the military population because of the mask of protection provided by social factors, otherwise referred to as tradition.

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1.  At the command level - enforce standards, follow through on the consequences of unwanted behavior, and encourage an open-door policy for those wishing to report unwanted behaviors

2.  Bonding activities such as laser tag, sports competitions against other members, engaging in community service

3.  Training that promotes a better understanding of hazing’s potential for harm and provide new perspectives for acceptable behavior in the military. It should also focus on teachSenior Leadershiping viable skills for response and prevention

  • Commitment and capacity - setting standards and expectations of behavior, taking an active part in those roles, and enforcing these conventionalities through accountability.
  • Planning - leaders should be aware of hazing and hazing culture within the context of their specific environment so that they may better customize efforts that will be most effective based on those factors
  • Cultural competence and sustainability - leadership training and access to resources must be continuous and avoid a one size fits all perspective so that it can grow and accommodate changes in reverence to inclusivity and hazing motivations.
  • Implementation - effective execution of all aforementioned factors and encourages leaders to stay mindful of what tactics are most effective and should be expounded upon.
  1. Including leadership early on in the process
  2. Being aware of the risk factors among and within individuals
  3. Promote and encourage protective factors such as creating an inclusive environment
  4. Community resources, leadership engagement, training, and education
  5. Mentorship

Behavior Cues


  • Initiation traditionsStop Symbol with Raised Palm
  • Excessive drinking
  • Sexual interactions - simulated sex, forced kissing, and sodomy
  • Paddling
  • Takes place publicly
  • Oral or written berating of another person to belittle or humiliate
  • Playing abusive or malicious tricks
  • Encouraging another person to engage in illegal, harmful, demeaning, or dangerous acts

Justification of Behaviors


  • Measures dedication to the group and introduces a sense of dues that must be paid in exchange for the automatic protections or advantages included with group membershipFour individuals harassing one person
  • Cognitive Dissonance suggests that a person experiencing discomfort, even extreme discomfort, will develop a sense of dissonance, almost acceptance, towards the unpleasant nature of the actions against them or the situation in favor of a desirable result
  • When considering aspects of military training, such as bootcamp or fitness training, Service members may put aside the physical and emotional discomfort or reframe it as necessary and worth the effort
  • Following orders
  • Engrained at the foundational level
  • A way of protecting the resources of the established group



Facilitation Guide:

Use this guide along with the resources below to for Hazing Training

►  Facilitation Guide

Training Videos:

Video Icon Video explaining hazing

Video Icon Video on how to identify and address issues

Participant Guide:

The participants can use this guide to engage the content

►  Student Guide

Additional Resources:

►  DEOMI Website Hazing Trainings
►  DEOCS Climate Survey Branch Policies: link to the resources pages

Service Specific Policies

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Civilian Personnel 
►​  DoD Instruction 1438.06


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Bullying is defined as: “An act of aggression by a military member or members, or Department of Defense civilian employee or employees, with a nexus to military service or Department of Defense civilian employment, with the intent of harming a military member, Department of Defense civilian, or any other persons, either physically or psychologically, without a proper military or other governmental purpose. Bullying may involve the singling out of an individual from his or her co-workers, or unit, for ridicule because he or she is considered different or weak. It often involves an imbalance of power between the aggressor and the victim.”

Hazing behaviors are designed to include or induct members into a group. Bullying behaviors are designed to exclude or separate an individual or members from a group.

Not only is hazing illegal, but it has detrimental consequences on victims and the military as a whole. The victim can experience a range of effects from loss of sleep and decline of emotional and mental health to illness and PTSD. The group where hazing took place and experience a loss of trust and decline of interest in the organization. This could lead to loss of forces and loss of readiness.

After determining a hazing incident took place, the persons involved may see Non-Judicial Punishment or Court Marshal. The victim could seek medical assistance if they have not already. The unit will likely go through hazing prevention training and possibly bystander intervention training. These trainings will make the unit more cohesive, safe, and a better working environment.

Though there might be some initial upset after a report is made, the victim and unit as a whole will benefit from being anti-hazing in the long run. Work performance, trust, and job satisfaction will all increase, even in those who were not the victim.

Within the DoD context, hazing is punishable by UCMJ through a variety of Articles, depending on the actions that took place. Most often, Articles 92 (disobedience of orders), 93 (cruelty and maltreatment), 124 (maiming) and 128 (assault) are used.

In addition to that, hazing is illegal in 44 states (excluding Alaska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Hawaii, Wyoming, and Montana) as of August 2022. Several of those states explicitly state that hazing is a felony.

Retaliation encompasses illegal, impermissible, or hostile actions taken by a Service members' chain of command, peers, or coworkers as a result of making or being suspected of making a protected communication in accordance with DoDD 7050.66.

If you feel that you are being retaliated against, you can speak to your Chain of Command or MEO Professional. Retaliation is an additional offense that can be punished by Non-Judicial Punishment or Court Marshall. By reporting retaliation, you may be entitled to a change in schedule, work group, or unit to protect you from those that are retaliating against you.


  • Conducting hazing prevention training (tailored, and facilitated to the targeted audience). Training should focus on:
    • Clearly defining what is, and what is not hazing (provide real-life examples
    • Developing life skills and coping mechanisms for newly arrived members
    • Identifying members with a greater chance of wanting to “fit in”
    • Creating an atmosphere of inclusion without forcing belongingness or assimilation
    • Understanding reporting procedures, and policies and regulations
  • Understanding reporting procedures, and policies and regulations
  • Mandate leader presence in all workplace settings
  • Conduct unit activities that build group inclusion, cohesion, trust, and respect
  • Conduct required climate assessments (per Service requirements); develop and implement proactive measures
  • Clearly define differences between hazing, extra-curricular activities, physical training, or team building
  • Discuss how “volunteering” to be hazed is not acceptable
  • Take all allegations/reports of hazing seriously and take appropriate actions to resolve allegations
  • Inform leadership of hazing complaints (provide updates as requested/required)
  • Remain neutral and professional; ensure all members are treated with dignity and respect throughout the investigative process
  • Identify why hazing occurred (e.g., lack of policy, education, enforcement of the rules)
  • Resolve complaints expeditiously using unbiased processes
  • Provide resources and support to all involved members (e.g., spiritual, medical, legal)
  • Separate non-conforming members from military Service as needed/required


DoDI 1020.03 states: “Service members or DoD civilian employees may be responsible for an act of hazing, even if there was actual or implied consent from the victim, and regardless of the grade or rank, status, or Service of the victim. Hazing is prohibited in all circumstances and environments including off-duty or “unofficial” unit functions and settings.”

A person may consent to hazing out of fear or lack of understanding of what they’re getting themselves into. Regardless of consent, hazing is still hazing and can be punished as such.

Look at “What is hazing?” for the DoDI definition. Examples could include:

  • Covered in dirt or rotten food
  • Being spit or urinated on
  • Tedious cleaning (such as toilets with a toothbrush)
  • Cleaning intentional messes from those in the hazing group
  • Servitude (such as doing personal laundry)
  • Excessive eating
  • Excessive drinking
  • Eating non-food items, or rotting food
  • Eating potentially risky items like raw eggs or hot peppers
  • Wearing humiliating clothing or costumes
  • Markings such as tattoos, brandings, shavings, scars
  • Exposure to the elements
  • Abandonment without transportation
  • Jumping from excessive heights
  • Stealing
  • Tests or gauntlets for achieving something (such as sailing across a meridian
  • Calisthenics or physical exercise
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Assignment of impossible or meaningless tasks
  • Carrying certain items
  • Forced confinement
  • Kidnapping
  • Total or partial nudity
  • Social isolation
  • Compelled sexual activity
  • Physical attacks


Although hazing is not explicitly listed in the UCMJ, many Articles still cover hazing behaviors. Most commonly used are Articles 92 (disobedience of orders), 93 (cruelty and maltreatment), 124 (maiming) and 128 (assault). But others could apply. 112 (drug an alcohol use), 114 (endangerment), 115 (threats), and in extreme cases, 118 and 119 (murder and manslaughter)

Depending on the severity of the hazing incident, any of these punishments could be enacted: punitive discharge, confinement, hard labor without confinement, restriction, reduction in grade, fine, forfeitures, reprimands, and death.

Even if the person(s) being hazed are acting ok, they may still be enduring trauma or other symptoms of hazing. Effects are not always obvious or immediate, but pose a huge threat to the individual hazed and the group conducting the hazing. The best thing to do is to report the hazing event to command or an MEO Professional.

Oftentimes, hazing behaviors are masked as “tradition” or seen as a way to “earn one’s place” such as a new rank or in a new unit. However, even if they are small pranks, hazing can have a detrimental effect on the person being hazed as well as the person/group doing the hazing

People may experience the same events differently and what was ok for one person, could lead to severe effects for another. Victims of hazing may experience decline in work performance, illness, loss of sleep, decline of mental and emotional health, and PTSD. Decreased trust, loss of respect, and diminished interest in being part of the organization can occur amongst the group where hazing took place.

DEOMI has several resources to help conduct training. Navigate to the Resources tab for videos, podcasts, articles, and other helpful information.

You can report hazing formally, informally, or anonymously. An informal complaint should be made to the lowest appropriate level in your Chain of Command. A formal complaint can be made to your MEO Professional or your Chain of Command

When giving an anonymous report, make sure you give enough information so an investigation can be conducted. This should include the date and time the event(s) took place, where the event(s) took place, who was involved, who witnesses it (or may have witnessed it), and a description of what actually occurred.

See DoDI 1020.03 for specifics and more information. Formal harassment complaints will be processed in accordance with the following timelines and requirements:

  1. To the extent practicable, within 5 duty days of receipt of the complaint, forward the complaint, with a detailed description of the facts and circumstances, to the next superior officer in the chain of command who is authorized to convene a general court-martial.
  2. Commence, or cause the commencement of, an investigation of the complaint within 5 duty days of receipt of the complaint
  3. Notify complainants when an investigation begins, provide them information about the investigation process and victim support resources available, on- and off-base, and any appeal rights. When the investigation is complete, the complainant must be notified whether the complaint was substantiated or unsubstantiated.
  4. Closely monitor and ensure timely completion of any investigation and, to the extent practicable, direct the investigation to be completed not later than 30 days after the date on which the investigation is commenced. In addition:
    1. A final report on the results of the investigation, including any action taken, will be submitted to the next superior officer as referenced in Paragraph 4.2.a. within 36 days after the date on which the investigation is commenced; or
    2. If the investigation cannot be completed within the timeline stated in Paragraph 4.2.d., a report on the progress made in completing the investigation will be submitted to the superior officer as referenced in Paragraph 4.2.a. after the date on which the investigation is commenced and every 14 days thereafter until the investigation is completed. Upon completion of the investigation, a final report on the results of the investigation must be submitted, including any action taken, to the next superior officer as referenced in Paragraph 4.2.a.
  5. All harassment complaint investigation reports should be reviewed for legal sufficiency. If you receive an anonymous complaint and have enough information to start an investigation, follow Service specific guidelines for conducting an investigation. If you do not have sufficient information for an investigation, the report needs to be documented in a Memorandum for Record and maintained on file in accordance with disposition instructions and the central point of contact responsible for processing harassment complaints. The Memorandum of Record should contain the following information if available:
    • Date and time the information was received;
    • A detailed description of the facts and circumstances included in the complaint;
    • Date and time the complaint was resolved and by whom; an
    • Any other pertinent information.
    If you receive a report in a Joint Service environment: ensure that joint commanders forward the complaint, with a detailed description of the facts and circumstances, to the next superior officer in the alleged offender’s chain of command who is authorized to convene a general court-martial.



  • Inform Service members of available reporting options and procedures, including to their commander, supervisor, the inspector general’s office, MEO office, or staff designated by the Military Service to receive complaints. One official will be specifically designated to receive allegations of harassment involving commanders and supervisors to ensure impartial adjudication of such complaints.
  • Advise Service members of available support resources.
  • Respond to and, as appropriate, investigate all harassment complaints
  • Follow additional procedures and comply with requirements set forth in Component-specific policies and guidance.
  • Follow the procedures in the RPRS Implementation Plan if the complainant alleges sexual harassment and retaliation.
  • Take appropriate disciplinary or administrative action when a complaint is substantiated.
  • Determine whether a climate assessment is warranted or additional unit training is required




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