Every year, parents reluctantly send their teenagers off to college, worried for their safety and their hearts full of promise for their child.  In their day, pranks may have involved stealing a mascot, or embarrassing themselves in front of the opposite sex.  But it appears, pranks today also involve potentially deadly hazing practices. Do these pranks put your teenager’slife at risk?

Recently, Fresno State’s Theta Chi fraternity lost an 18 year old freshman to hazing involving extreme amounts of alcohol.  Hopeful freshmen pledges were locked in a room with bottles of alcohol- tequila, rum, and vodka, and told they must finish all of the bottles.  One 18 year old, Phillip Dhanens of Bakersfield, did not make it.  Of the 15 boys locked in the room, Dhanens did not make it. 

According to the police search warrant, the teen consumed excess amounts of alcohol given to him by his older fraternity brothers.  After drinking heavily, he became agitated before passing out.  In response to his condition, fraternity brothers carried him to a designated “Drunk Room” where “Sober Brothers” observed him.  Three hours later, Dhanens stopped breathing.  He passed away due to swelling of the brain caused by alcohol poisoning. His blood alcohol level was .36, or over 4 times the legal limit. Astonishingly, this is the second death in the past 6 years on Fresno State’s campus due to alcohol related hazing.

Parents have little to no control over their teenagers when they send them off to college.  And naturally, teenagers will test the boundaries and explore their newfound freedom.  But while parents may expect poor grades or potential legal consequences as a result of poor decision making skills, they do not usually expect their child to die.

The fraternity house broke the law in multiple ways- not only giving alcohol to an underage teenager, but their coercion killed this child.  Issues like this often bring up many questions.  Where was the school’s oversight into its fraternity system’s activities? Were there anti-hazing practices in place? Is there a system to report such activities and coercive behavior? At what point does the school act to ensure your child’s safety?

If you have lost your child to potentially deadly hazing practices, you may want to consult an attorney regarding a wrongful deathclaim.  No one can bring your child back, but you may inspire change in a broken university system.