Bullying isn’t Just for Kids.

It isn’t a surprise that the idea of Bullying continues to happen past elementary school. The term “Bullying” means…  

 “…a grab for control by an insecure, inadequate person, an exercise of power through the humiliation of the target. It involves humiliation or abusive words that lower a person’s self-esteem. It can take the form of rude, degrading or offensive remarks; intimidating gestures; or discrediting a person by spreading rumours, ridiculing them or calling into question their convictions and private life. It can also be about belittling a person by making her do tasks below their skill level.” (The Canada Safety Council)

 In other words, it is a psychological form of harassment.

Therefore, in the workplace, most people tend to deal with this type of harassment by attempting to shield themselves from it or just reacting to it outside the workplace. They are afraid if they speak out they could be considered weak, a complainer or worse, lose their job.

“It is a very unhealthy position to be in.” Beth Hedva, Betrayal, Trust and Forgiveness, 2001

 As adults, you would believe, that people would not allow this to happen around them in the workplace. Yet, all too often, fellow workers become bystanders because there isn’t support for them or the victim of bullying to speak out.

“Even if they don’t join in the bullying, the bystanders become a huge problem because they’re no support,” says Karen Learmonth, cohead of No Bully for Me, a Canadian support group, based in Vancouver, and resource for adult bullying

Many employees who become victims of bullying are not weak! Most of these employees are very capable, able and reasonable people. They just are not confrontational.

To understand what kind of person a bully is doesn’t necessarily help to stop bullying. These people are typically angry and sometimes entitled. There is a narcissistic element to their reactions to situations and their need to control.

 “exhibiting a narcissistic anger – she does not feel insecure, she feels entitled”( Karyn Hall PhD, 2012)

Since most entitled or narcissistic people don’t feel they are in the wrong and very likely will not be open to listening to reason, it makes the task of eliminating bullying in adults even harder. Employees feel the imbalance of power and this can be very stressful that can continue to be felt even outside of the workplace.

For elementary ages there are many programs in place to attempt to combat bullying in school. As children get older, there are many social issues that come into place that lends to the triggers that cause bullying. They can be examples that are taught at home. Parents that may or may not realize that their gossiping, anger, negative comments are being over heard by their children and mimicked. This can cause social bullying at school. Harmful remarks against others. This can go on without consequences because the culprit can’t always be seen or heard directly. Verbal abuse is all too common and most severe, physical bullying.   

The remedy is always education. Strong leadership is required to better problem solve. If we are to have mentally healthy adults, we must train and educate our children to be secure and content with confrontations and issues regarding conflicts.

To educate the children we need the same understanding already in the teachers, the adults, that are teaching it.  

“Strong teacher and adult leadership and strong student-teacher bonding: Students who have a strong attachment to school, experience fewer emotional and behavioural problems and have better educational outcomes. Students who have a stronger attachment to school develop increased feelings of security and acceptance within the school. These outcomes lead to improved academic and behavioural functioning and increased literary skills. Furthermore, individuals with a strong sense of membership within the school achieve higher grades, experience fewer feelings of depression, have a lower rate of substance use, and have lower truancy. Indeed, when bullying takes place and is not addressed by school staff due to a lack of parental or teacher involvement, students are more likely to report feeling unhappy and unsafe”. (Canadian Public Health Association, 2003)

The overall support from all levels is needed to battle the bully. We need to continue to implement programs to raise awareness and teach children to speak out when they or someone else is being bullied. In time we create more empathy in our children and this will help the younger generation to behave more respectfully when attempting to achieve power and status as adults. As bullying affects all ages and is found in almost every situation, it is a social issue which must be confronted in schools by teachers who, themselves, are trained to deal with confrontation in a positive and respectful manner. The teachers themselves must practice this even when not in the classroom. It must continue in the staffroom, in the hallways, in the parking lot, etc. It is a life lesson that will help with negative social issues that continue to grow right into adulthood.