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Multi-Million Dollar Hazing Lawsuits Show Persistent Problem

It seemed like harmful hazing rituals were on the decline, but several new lawsuits show that the serious problem still persists throughout U.S. high schools and colleges.

In Maryland, a recent graduate of Stevenson University filed a $4 million lawsuit against Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, claiming that hazing caused him to be hospitalized for a week. In New Jersey, a high school student filed at $1.5 million lawsuit against Sayreville Public Schools for the sexual assault he suffered in the football locker room from seven teammates.

To some people - especially those from generations where hazing was considered a "rite of passage" - the damage values in the lawsuits may seem lofty. However, we aren't talking about some kids whose feelings were hurt because they were light-heartedly razzed or told to haul the team's stinky jerseys back from an away game. The lawsuits claim that the tormentors disregarded boundaries of basic human decency and grossly abused a position of seniority or authority.

Long after physical injuries heal, hazing and bullying can create lifelong emotional and psychological damage to victims. Depression and thoughts of suicide are common. Self-confidence and self-worth are put in doubt. Stockholm syndrome, where the victim may inexplicably feel loyal or positive to his or her tormentors, may further complicate the situation.

If you or your child has suffered from severe hazing, it is wise to seek a confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. A skilled attorney will help you assess your case and decide what actions are best for you and your family.

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