As exciting as starting high school can be, many freshmen are confronted with peer pressure and hazing, whether it’s in history class, the cafeteria, or cheerleading practice (yep, it happens). Everyone wants to fit in and be liked in school, which is why so many people fall prey to hazing rituals or peer pressure. However, hazing and peer pressure often times goes too far and many schools and teachers are taking a stand against it by instituting a no tolerance policy. The sad thing is, many students never report hazing because they’re afraid or embarrassed. As a freshman, you must know that hazing and peer pressure is never okay. Find out how to deal with it and when to take it to the officials. First, what exactly is the point of hazing? Groups of students will haze a new member or a freshman as a means of initiation, either because he/she is joining the group or because he/she is a new student. While bullies disguise hazing as a team building exercise to help one “fit in,” it is nothing more than cruel victimization‚ an excuse to harass, bully, and embarrass someone. Some hazing has gone so far it’s resulted in physical injuries and even death. Hazing can be a more extreme peer pressure but even basic peer pressure is a form of bullying. Peer pressure is when someone tells you to do something simply because “everyone else is doing it” or because you won’t fit in unless you do it. No one should ever do something they’re not ready for or that they don’t feel comfortable doing. Unfortunately, while you can say no to hazing, you can’t prevent peer pressure from happening. Most likely, someone at school will try to pressure you. It’s up to you to say “no.” This is easier said than done. It can be scary standing up to an intimidating peer, but by doing so you’ll show him/her that you’re not someone to be pushed around. Taking a stand doesn’t mean you have to start a fight; instead, voice your opinion. Explain why you don’t want to do something or why you won’t take part in a hazing ritual. Remember, real friends would never make you jump through hoops in order to prove yourself. If someone continually harasses you or tries to intimidate you, it’s time to talk to a teacher, parent, or school official. If someone is bullying you, he/she is most likely also bullying other people. By standing up to the person by talking with an adult, you may help prevent other people from being bullied. Maybe you’re not being pressured or hazed, but you’re worried that your friend or teammate is (or you’re a parent and think your child is being bullied). By knowing the signs of someone being peer pressured or bullied, you can know when to reach out to that person and try to help. If someone is being bullied or hazed, he/she will start withdrawing from friends, families, and group activities. She may start skipping or being late to cheer practice. Other symptoms include a changed physical appearance, weight loss, bruises or other physical injuries, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, personality change, or lack of communication. Hazing and peer pressure are forms of bullying and no one should endure them. By knowing the signs and knowing how and when to stand up to a bully, you can avoid being hazed or pressured into something. To learn more about hazing, visit Deal.org. Fun fact: Did you know Chasse scholar and Cheer Channel Superstar of the All Stars Dee Temples promoted an anti-bullying campaign with Cheer Channel? Read all about it here and watch the video below: Have you ever been hazed or peer pressured? How did you handle the situation?