On Air

Jamie Harrison

The psychology of hazing

07.12.2018 06:30
By: Frank McGwire

Can this ritual be stopped?


Brandon, MB (CKLQ) - Hazing can be traced back to Plato's Academy in 387 B.C.

In it's earliest examples, hazing was called pennalism, meaning "a system of mild oppression and torment practiced upon first year students” (Collins Dictionary).

The practice of hazing has been called a rite of passage, a bonding ritual, or an initiation of novice members into a fraternity, elite sports team or military unit through physical and mental challenges.

However, hazing can have a sinister side involving physical or sexual abuse and emotional trauma that, for some, can leave deep psychological scars.

It's also led to hundreds of deaths when typically alcohol-fueled indoctrinating pranks go unexpectedly and horribly wrong.

Despite a burgeoning number of anti-hazing policies put in place by universities and colleges, within the military and among sports organizations, the practice continues today.

Michael Atkinson is a professor of kinesiology and physical education at the University of Toronto and a trained as a sociologist.

He says stopping hazing, and the cultures that support it, means enacting zero-tolerance policies on campuses, within sports teams, the military and for any other group that views membership as a hard-won prize open only to a select few.