Hazing is simply another name for bullying, and it is unacceptable in all its forms. Bullies will do only what bystanders allow; it is a group process and a social dynamic that grips a victim’s entire world.
Psychoanalysts view bullying as a three-party process, rather than a two-party one. The bully becomes an “agent” of the bystander audience, and together they create a complex and destructive power dynamic.
Any intervention must consider the interlocking social interaction among bullies, victims and the audience of bystanders (including the authorities) observing or being involved directly or indirectly with the process.
In addition to the real dangers of physical violence in hazing, the threat of social scorn can have a devastating effect on development and progression in life. Although it is less obvious, bullies and bystanders also suffer destructive consequences because of their participation in bullying.
These negative effects on all participants are preventable.
Middletown, Conn., Sept. 20, 2012
The writer is a psychiatrist.