How to Protect Your Children From the Dangers of Fraternities/Sororities
I was invited recently to a radio show (Sakto with Amy Perez and Marc Logan) to talk about helping our children find the right friends. This segment was prompted by the death of a law student due to hazing in one of the top universities in the Philippines.
It’s heartbreaking to hear that the life of a young person with a promising future was cut short because of hazing, an initiation rite that is commonly done in fraternities. If it’s heartbreaking for people, parents especially, to read or hear about it, how much more to the parents of hazing victims. Surely, no parent wants to be in their shoes or to experience burying their child.
We had limited time during my tele-radio interview. Thus, I’ve decided to write about this topic so I can share more tips and insights.
Let me share a bit about my college life. I studied at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City. There are many fraternities and sororities in our university. Many of my parents’ friends and our relatives warned my parents to advise me to stay away from sororities. I assured my parents and relatives that I have no plans of joining these groups.
I had friends and classmates who joined sororities and fraternities. I learned of the many things they went through during their application or initiation period. I had classmates who were bruised and in pain going to our classes because they were hit with paddles. They knew very well what was going to happen to them. They knew that there would be hazing but they were decided to join the fraternities just the same. My close female friends also joined a sorority. I was invited to join them but I declined. I didn’t see the need for me to join them even though these friends of mine cited the many benefits that they think joining sororities or fraternities would bring them.
Looking back, I am thankful that I made my decision. I was right all along. I didn’t need to join these groups to reach my career goals or to find real friends who will be like brothers and sisters to me.
So, I’d like to help fellow parents protect their children from the dangers of fraternities or sororities.
5 Ways to Protect Your Children From the Dangers of Fraternities/Sororities
1. Build your children’s self-esteem.
I believe that this is the most important thing that parents should do to protect their children from the dangers of fraternities and sororities. Everything starts here. A child who has a high or strong self-esteem or who has confidence in himself and his abilities will not see the need for him to find another person or a group who will help him achieve his goals and dreams.
One of the reasons that most college students give why they want to join a fraternity or sorority is because they want help in the future from these groups or from the members of these groups to get into their dream jobs or dream companies. They want to get into these groups because of the perks of gaining access to a network of people who have influence and who can help them.
What is wrong with this mentality?
I think this is why padrino system is prevalent in the Philippines, especially in government offices.
I don’t support or agree with this belief or thinking. And I don’t like my children to adopt this kind of mentality.
That is why as early as now or when they were toddlers, I do my best to build their self-esteem and self-confidence. I’m training them to be independent and to believe that they have the abilities to achieve what they want to achieve.
If we are able to communicate to our children consistently while they are young that we believe in them and in their capabilities, they wouldn’t think that they are incapable of achieving even big dreams on their own.
There are actually many disadvantages of getting a job or getting a certain position because of someone else’s influence instead of your own merits.
First, you don’t have credibility. Somehow, people in your office will sense that. You yourself know that you only got that job or position because of someone’s influence. That can be a source of insecurity also.
Second, you are putting yourself in an awkward or difficult place. You are bound to return the favor because a favor has been granted to you. This can cause you to compromise your values or what is right. Your judgment will be clouded by your “utang na loob.”
I didn’t feel or see the need to join these kinds of groups because early on, I had a high self-esteem. I experienced being successful and achieving my dreams even as a child without relying on other people’s help. I didn’t ask my parents to help me with my assignments during my elementary years. I didn’t cheat during exams. I was independent at a young age. I was even at the top of my class all throughout my elementary years.
So, even though I was nervous during my freshman year in UP, my fears were not big enough to make me think that I am incapable of getting into my dream job or dream company on my own.
I had my early experiences as a student to give me confidence in myself and in my abilities. Actually, passing the entrance tests in the school where I studied high school and passing the UPCAT gave me enough confidence that I will also pass my future interviews when I apply for work.
True enough, I got employed right away even before I got my college diploma. Companies were lining up to employ me. I got to practice what I studied for in college in my first job. And although I made a career shift a couple of years after a successful stint in the hotel and restaurant industry, I was able to climb the corporate ladder without anybody’s influence. This gave me pride, confidence, fulfillment and true joy because my hard work and efforts paid off. Now, I am reaping the fruits of my labor.
Another reason why students join these groups is because of peer pressure or influence. Their classmates and friends are joining so they also choose to join. A person with low self-esteem would find it hard to resist the invitation or pressure from their peers. I’m so thankful that I didn’t have a low self-esteem even though all of my female barkada (close friends) chose to join a sorority. I didn’t feel left out. I was happy to make that decision and I was proud of that decision.
But not all students are strong enough to resist peer pressure. Parents need to prepare their kids for these eventualities. A person with high self-esteem or has confidence in himself and his decisions is strong enough to make an unpopular decision. That person would not feel the need to conform. That person would not be afraid to be different from the crowd.
That’s how I want my children to be when they grow up. I want them to be strong enough to stand by their decisions even if they need to stand alone.
I want them to possess the qualities of successful people and leaders. A person who is incapable of making unpopular decisions or choices even if these are right will not be a good leader.
2. Surround them with the right people.
It takes a village to raise a child is an old adage that I believe is true. It’s not enough that parents teach their children the right values. It also helps to surround our children with people who have values that are similar to us. Values are easier caught than taught says my elders in the Catholic charismatic community that I was a part of when I was in college. Now that I am a parent, I agree with them. It’s so much easier to teach academics to children. But values and good character need to be modeled as well and not just preached to our children.
In truth, children are great imitators. Thus, if they witness something that is done consistently in their childhood, they would most likely do the same things in the future. If they hear something regularly while they are young, they would most likely remember and take that to heart.
I was also blessed that most of the people I knew then were not part of these groups. Aside from that, I grew up joining religious organizations. Thus, when I was a freshman in college, these were the type of groups that I wanted to join.
When kids become used to a certain culture or lifestyle, they will look for it. If they become aware of the kind of culture that permeates in sororities and fraternities, they would be turned off. Many of the members of these groups have vices because having vices is acceptable and a norm in these groups. It is common for these groups to have parties where alcoholic drinks are served and members are encouraged to try. Sex outside of marriage is also something that members of fraternities accept and encourage because of the macho image that they project. Violence is another thing that fraternities are associated with.
But if our children grew up surrounded by people who taught them and who lived out values that do not support having vices, violence or premarital sex, our children would not find these groups attractive.
Instead, they would look for groups that support environmentalism, encourage chastity or celebrate purity among young people and many other groups that advocate peace and love for others.
I am happy that my kids are now active in our parish. They are surrounded by people who love the Lord and who use their talent, time and treasure in the service of God and His Church. I’m glad that they also enjoy attending the activities of our Catholic charismatic community. They have many good role models and there are many people who help me and my husband remind them of what is right and wrong.
3. Teach them that bullying is not acceptable.
Children need to be taught at an early age what bullying is and that it is not acceptable.
When people start hurting you physically and emotionally or psychologically, you need to distance yourself from these people. If they persist in giving you trouble, you need to report them to authorities.
We need to teach our children these things. I do this by reading books to them also.
But this also starts with a healthy self-esteem. A child with low self-esteem can be easily targeted by bullies. A child or student with low self-esteem will think that he “deserves” to be bullied. He is not able to stand up for himself. He thinks that it’s okay to be hurt by other people.
When a child is taught these things at an early age and then learns that bullying is done in fraternities and sororities, especially during initiation rites, then that child would be turned off by these practices because he already knows that this kind of behavior is not acceptable. The child knows already that any form of attack to his dignity as a person whether physically or otherwise is not acceptable.
So, it goes back again to number one which is having a healthy self-esteem. You will protect yourself from bad treatment if you have a healthy self-esteem.
I also joined student organizations in UP but the things that we were asked to do as part of our application did not include being humiliated or shouted at or getting hurt physically.
4. Teach them what true friendship is all about.
One of our basic needs is the need for belongingness. We all want to feel that we belong to a certain group. We first experience belongingness in our own family. But when we go out of our family or our home, we sometimes feel insecure and doubtful. Thus, we find friends or people with whom we can connect and build relationships with.
One of the important skills that we can teach our children is how to make friends with others. We need to teach them what true friendships are so that they would know how to find true friends and how they can be good friends to others.
We need to teach them that true friends want what is good for their friends and that they look after each other. They help each other and they are good or kind to each other. Friends do not hurt you intentionally. Friends protect you from danger or harm.
I was blessed to have experienced beautiful friendships at an early age. In fact, I am still in touch with my best friend in elementary and high school. I have experienced how it is to be loved and accepted as I am by my friends when I was still a child or in my teenage years. I also experienced the same thing when I was already in college. I had rich friends who accepted and loved me even though I was poor. To this day, I am friends with these people who loved me and welcomed me into their lives with unconditional love.
I was glad that I didn’t join a sorority during my college days because I probably wouldn’t be close friends with these people if I have chosen a different group.
I had many beautiful and strong friendships in college through the Catholic youth group that I joined. In that group, I experienced real sisterhood and brotherhood. They were the kind of friends who protected me from danger. They were the kind of friends who quickly ran to my side whenever I needed help or comfort. There were no conditions or strings attached to their concern, love and friendship. They were supportive of me and my endeavors then and until now.
Our children need to know that true, beautiful and lasting friendships are possible… That true friendships need not have conditions like you need to be hurt first or you need to do things beneath your dignity or against your values just to be accepted. Real friends will not pressure you to conform if you are not comfortable or if these things are against your values. Real friends respect each other.
Real friends will love you unconditionally. They will reflect the unconditional love of God to you.
One of my treasures in life is my real friends. These are people who love me for who I am. I don’t need to make pretenses. I can be who I am to them and I will not be judged. They don’t always agree with me. In truth, some of them disagree with me when they think that what I want or what I’m doing would be harmful or would not be good for me.
I hope and pray that my children would find these kinds of friends as well.
5. Introduce them to people who became successful without joining these groups.
We need to give our children good role models. Of course, we parents should be their first good role models. But aside from us, they need to know other people who became successful without having to join a fraternity or sorority.
Parents can do this by introducing them personally or through books and videos to these people.
Parents can read biography books to their children or gift them with copies of these kinds of books if their children are old enough to read on their own.
Parents can watch videos, films or documentaries with their kids about successful people who made it big due to their hard work and persistence.
These people could inspire our children to also persevere, work hard and believe in their abilities.
Since my kids are still very young, I let them watch videos of inventors who persevered until they were able to realize their dreams or achieved their goals. My husband and I also let them watch videos of athletes who train hard to succeed in their sport. I love reading books to my children about successful people who went through challenges in the beginning.
Through these, I want them to learn that hard work eventually gets rewarded. I want them to learn that going through challenges is normal and part of life and that they need to learn how to overcome challenges if they want to succeed in life. I want them to learn that victory is sweet if you truly earned it.
I also introduce them personally to my friends or people in my network who are successful in what they are doing. That way, the stories become real flesh to them as they meet real people.
6. Teach them that there are many people who are fair and are genuinely good.
Last but not least, we need to teach our children that people are innately good. That amid all the bad news that we read or hear, there are many people who are still good… people who are fair and who genuinely care or help others without asking anything in return.
When we think that we need a padrino or someone who will back us up to get accepted in a job or to be promoted, we are already thinking ill of other people. Why? because we are thinking that people would not be fair. Well, there are cases when life is unfair and we meet people who are unfair. But in my experience, I have met many people who did their jobs fairly and honestly.
I got accepted in a multinational corporation without having a need for a padrino or backer. The people who processed my application were fair.
When I started building my career as an author, there were many people who supported me and helped me without expecting anything in return. One of them is my mentor, Bo Sanchez, a bestselling author of many books and a sought-after speaker. He has been very supportive of me from the start. Until now, whenever I have new books to launch or I have new products to launch, he is one of those who gives me support and he gladly endorses me to his followers.
When I left my corporate job and chose to be a consultant, I experienced the goodness of many of my clients. They referred me to their other family members, relatives and friends who also had businesses. I didn’t promise a discount to them for future transactions before they recommended me. They simply liked my services and they wanted me to help their family members or friends.
We attract what we focus on. We get what we expect.
If we focus on the good in others, we will experience more of that. If we expect good things or great things to happen in our lives, that’s what we will experience.
Let us not deprive our children of these beautiful experiences. Let’s help them expect good from others and inspire them to be genuinely good persons as well.
I knew someone who died not because of hazing but because of frat violence. I was shocked when I heard the news that he died that way. I actually saw him a couple of hours before a frat rumble happened in UP that day. That same afternoon, I heard that he died while walking near our main library.
I also knew someone who suffered in jail for many years because he was accused of being part of that rumble who caused the death of the person I was telling you about in the previous paragraph.
Both of them were victims of the fraternity system.
It was a good thing that my friend eventually regained his freedom. But it was a difficult life that he had in jail. He now discourages students to join fraternities because the dangers far outweigh the advantages or benefits.
No parent would want to see their children dead or in jail. I hope that these tips and my story would help other parents protect more young people from the dangers of fraternities and sororities.