How does the military define hazing?
The army defines hazing in a very specific way. An Army command policy 600-20, paragraph 4-19, specifically subparagraph A1, hazing is defined as a form of harassment that includes conduct through which either soldiers or even DA civilians without proper military authority or governmental purpose, but with who have some type of a nexus to the military physically or psychologically injure, or create a risk of physical or psychological injury to soldiers. For the purpose of initiation is the most common also for admission into or affiliation with or some kind of change of status. You’re talking like blood wings or joining another organization, maybe even special forces.
Obtaining a higher rank, right with those little pins can be pushed in. Hazing can be conducted through the use of even electronic devices according to this new amendments to policy or in communications by other means, including social media and in person. The policy lists out a number of very, very, very specific behaviors. I can give you an example from a long time ago, even though it was not as well articulated in policy, and that was when a service member in Monheim, Germany was being hazed by his unit. Specifically he was being paddled after having been made to consume a substantial amount of alcohol. His testicles were paddled and this young man ended up dying. I was involved in the case as advising the death investigation, which meant that I was required to look through the autopsy and the entire investigation. That was a very difficult process, but gives you the highlighting of why command finds these activities to be particularly dangerous because they are. The combination of the high amount of alcohol combined with the physical rigors of the hazing and everything else that was required of him.
That’s a good example. The ones that the regulation specifies talks about any form of initiation or congratulatory act that involves physically striking, beating, paddling, whipping or burning another person in any manner or even threatening to do the same. Also pressing any object into another person’s skin that’s like the jump blood wings type scenario,
Oral or written berating of another person with the purpose of belittling or humiliating, encouraging another person to engage in illegal, harmful, demeaning or dangerous acts, playing abusive or malicious tricks, excessive physical exercise, confinement to restricted areas, isolation or sleep deprivation, immersion in noxious substances, branding, handcuffing, duct taping, tattooing, shaving, greasing, or painting another person subjecting another person to excessive or abusive use of water. Sometimes you’ve seen that in basic training and also forcing another person to consume food, alcohol, drugs, or any other substance. They also outlaw, soliciting, coercing or knowingly permitting another person to participate, solicit, or coerce. Such conduct is also going to be considered hazing. And so that means making somebody participate. That means inviting somebody else to invite somebody to participate. A lot of times we hear in these cases where people will try to defend themselves by saying, but they agreed to it. They said they were fine with it. Well, one of the main issues that we see now in hazing is that it’s specifically outlines that agreement to it is not going to be a defense to hazing. Agreement to an act can potentially be a defense to the underlying assault if it’s merely an assault consummated by a battery. By definition, the law tells us that it will never be a defense to aggravated assault if a person gave their permission. How does the military defined hazing? Pretty substantial ways. Hopefully it’s pretty clear.
Jocelyn Stewart is a UCMJ court-martial attorney who specializes in defense of allegations of sexual assault for all branches of the military worldwide.
Contact the Law Office of Jocelyn C. Stewart at 253-212-958
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