High School Hazing

High School Hazing

Seasoned Lawyers for High School Hazing Victims

Hazing occurs more frequently than we think and more often than it should, and in high schools. High school hazing is defined as an activity in which prospective members or new members of an organization are subjected to rites of passage that may turn violent, humiliating, or sexual. At the high school level, hazing has the potential to be even more damaging to a student’s developing mind. Hazing that causes bodily injuries or sexual harm is illegal. If you or your child was a victim of high school hazing, you should call the effective hazing attorneys of Phillips & Associates. We represent clients on a contingency fee basis and provide free consultations.


High school hazing most frequently occurs when freshmen join the student body. However, it can also happen in the context of joining an elite club at a high school. Hazing practices in public and private high schools may include: 

  • Sexual shaming 
  • Sexual assault 
  • Receiving verbal sexual threats 
  • Physical penetration or violation 
  • Simulation of sex acts 
  • Perpetration of sex acts 
  • Forced nudity including while walking around 
  • Gang rape 
  • Forced consumption of too much food or liquid 
  • Participation in sexual rituals or assaults 
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Being whipped or paddled 
  • Mentally abusive or demeaning conduct 
  • Acts that cause emotional, mental, or physical deprivation 
  • Torture 
  • Tattooing or branding 
  • Exposure to the elements

Knowing you or your high schooler need not put up with hazing is important. Those that encourage hazing may try to paint it as a rite of passage. However, it is a crime under New York and other State Penal Law.


Hazing in court can subject someone to both criminal and civil liability when certain elements are met. Hazing in the first degree, which is a class A misdemeanor, may be found if, in the course of joining an organization a student recklessly engages in behavior that creates a substantial risk of physical injuries to others and thereby causes injuries. Hazing in the second degree is found when someone intentionally or recklessly engages in behavior that creates a substantial risk of another when that behavior is in the course of an initiation or affiliation with an organization.


Hazing in court requires our lawyers to establish a defendant’s liability. In addition to facing criminal liability, hazing can result in civil liability for anybody that orchestrated the hazing, group leaders and advisors and the high school, or any organizations at the high school, under which hazing was perpetrated. When we can establish that someone else is civilly liable for directly participating in hazing, we may be able to hold them accountable for compensatory and punitive damages.


You can hold institutions like high schools accountable for hazing injuries and death when the hazing is committed by organizations operating under school sponsorship. At the high school level, this can include sports teams [link to sports hazing], clubs, and any other organizations. Schools should not turn a blind eye to hazing or allow it to occur on campus or in connection with school activities. In order to establish school liability, we would likely need to prove the school was negligent, meaning that it owed you a duty of reasonable care, but failed to live up to that standard, and thereby contributed to your injuries. It can be difficult to prove a hazing claim because parties may try to cover up the incident that gave rise to your lawsuit. Evidence of another party’s criminal conviction can lend support to your hazing lawsuit, which can make it important to report your claim to the police and allow them to investigate. It is also imperative to retain experienced trial lawyers that understand how to uncover concealed evidence and prove institutional liability in court.


Our trusted attorneys represent high schoolers who have been hazed in New York including Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Nassau County. We are also in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and can help throughout the U.S. Complete our online form or call us at (212) 248-7431 if you believe you or your child may have a clai

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