I am 18 years old and living out of my hometown for the first time. Away from my parents and from home, I have been feeling rather home-sick.

On the top of this, I have been constantly ragged by my college seniors. Generally, I would approach the authorities, but I have to live with my seniors for another four years. My peers advise me to bear with it as things will slowly settle down.

Nirupama Dwivedi answers:

There is no doubt that initiation into college life is associated with being ragged by seniors. As an ice-breaker, it could act as a facilitative and harmless exercise. Sometimes it is done as a ‘tradition’ for a stipulated time (say, the first two weeks or till Fresher’s Night).

Many a time ragging can be more with a particular person due to familiarity (example, you have a sister or a common friend in the senior batch) or a person may be picked on because he or she is a ‘sport’.

However, if it makes a person feel vulnerable it certainly needs attention and you are the best judge of how it affects you. If you feel that though it is happening ‘constantly,’ it is indeed harmless, peer support may help you cope with it. Another option would be for you to discuss with a (non-ragging) senior to help you sort it out with them.

If you are feeling undermined and there seems to be a shade of bullying, it may be necessary for you to address it . You could speak frankly to the authorities to deal with it in a way that does not affect everyone involved further.

This would be crucial as the seniors may not be aware of the effect they have on the other person. Besides if the ragging is going beyond limits you would have helped by avoiding dire consequences. Overall, if any situation crosses boundaries and makes a person feel belittled it certainly should not be encouraged to continue.

(Nirupama Dwivedi is a clinical psychologist, with an interest in working with adjustment issues through young adults.)