Hazing is a term we hear a lot about with regard to college—bands, sports teams, fraternities and sororities—but it is also happening at social service agencies. Lately I have been talking to people at different points in their careers, some of whom are in the medical field, while others, like me, are starting a social services career. In orientation we are always told that if we see something being done illegally and unethically we are to report it to the appropriate people. The problem is that we do see these things being done, a lot, by individuals who have worked at the same place for a long time and engage in practices that may not accord with standard policy. They set the tone for the “culture” there, and they have their seniority to protect them. If a new person blows the whistle, he or she is vulnerable to being ostracized by the senior staff. So where do we go when we see something questionable?
The “join us or you’re against us” mentality can make for a hostile work environment and it puts pressure on the newbies to keep quiet and to conform, despite what we know to be policy. This happens in all work settings, probably, but what do you do when you are fresh out of college, in your first social services career placement? How are you going to handle these situations in a manner that is professional and safe?
Image via POGO blog.