Friday, 20 April 2007

Why is Bullying so Prevalent in Society Today?

The current discussions around bullying and my own experiences have given me a great deal to ponder. With all the postulating however, all I can come up with are questions and no definitive answers. I have however tried to provide a little insight from my own experiences with regards to the action of bullying. How often have we seen or heard about colleagues in the 'physical workplace', who have been or are being bullied? How often have we heard of the silence from others in close proximity to the victim? How often do our children cry out for help against a bully, or tell us of a bully at school? Why is it like this? Why are we so afraid? What are we afraid of? Where are we failing as a society? We have antibullying programs, legislation to protect the workforce and citizens, whistleblower protection (or so it is said), so why is bullying physical or online increasing and not decreasing?

The high cost of bullying | PD articles | The Australian

Workplace Bullying - Don't be a victim!

Does Bullying Do Harm?

Scenario one: The Year 1970 A child the age of 9, quiet and shy, eager to learn and well behaved at all times in school. Other children unable to stand the 'goody two shoes' nature of their class mate, constantly tease the child, taunting with words for months, with the end result being the child withdraws from as much interaction with the school community as is humanly possible. Children still feeling they are not done, that they really need to let the child know that there way is right and so they need to change and follow the popular ones, plot a way to get their message through. Lunchtime and those fortunate to have lunch orders, leave the school grounds, across the school crossing to the milk bar, to collect their orders, a regular event. On this day, the quiet child, makes her way across the school crossing, half way across, the voices of others ringing in her ears from behind her, a noise not known to her is present, Thwack, as the child hits the road, face down, arm locked in a strange position and pain never felt before. Gaining footing, no tears, holding the sore arm, continuing to the milk bar. Lunch in hand, cautiously crossing the road back to school, finding a quiet place behind a building, away from all to eat lunch. Time has little significance, the bell is not heard, the world has changed for this child. Maybe it had already changed and it was not recognised but the physical pain and the ruminating, have triggered a change in the child, one that will affect their life, potentially change their reality. Teachers looking for the child, two hours since the bell rang. Found, sitting holding the injured arm and staring blankly, no movements apart from breath and eyes. Taken to first aid, determined that the bone sticking out of the arm indicates a serious break. Parents called, hospital, a significant break, enormous pain but never a tear, plaster then home. Parents work with the child, finally understanding the chain of events. Asked why teachers were not told "I was to scared" replies the child, "scared of what"? Ask the parents, "Everything and Everyone". Complaint to school, students questioned, "We did not see anything" the common response, NO ACTION taken, No evidence. Return to school and continue for years, quiet, a loner, chased home from school, never again to complain, always pretending that all is okay, to scared, unaware of any human rights. Silence, Isolation, Loneliness, Stripped of so much at such a young age Scenario 2: The year 2005 A wonderful opportunity presented, a new project, one seen as a challenge, exciting and fun. At the outset aware of a possible antagonist but loathe to be concerned about it. A job to be done and the perfectionist rises to ensure all is done to the best of their ability. The jibes begin, the abusive phone calls at work, everything they antagonist can do, to try and unsettle, discredit the project and the person. Each act instilling a little more fear and questions. "Why is this happening? What have I done wrong? Why do I deserve this? When will it end"? Reluctant to advise management, a new job, no trouble wanted, "Maybe they will think I have done something wrong"? Continues in silence but then too much. Management advised, kind and compassionate and discuss measures in order to protect the project and the person. Actions of bullying, intimidation continue, others including management bearing witness, devolving of responsibility, all of a sudden feeling alone. Determined to deal with it, determined to cope, have to, otherwise seen as weak and maybe incompetent, constantly questioning everything, especially their own actions, "I must have done something wrong", I must deserve this. Without noticing, BRAIN CRASH, no longer coping, no longer functioning. To scared not to go to work, to scared not to go to work, need protection but that has vanished, need someone to talk to but all have shut off, a workcover claim the reason. Scared to tell family and friends, a failure, how could they be told?, they would not understand. Locked in the house, no phones answered, computers off, mail unopened, robotic functioning all that is left for basic survival. Nothing brings a smile, distanced from children, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, nothing left, why bother, why continue, The Black Dog, has descended. Claim upheld, evidence strong but changes nothing. Stripped of the new job, contract not renewed, colleagues bar two, never contact, distance completely, rebuilding of a life, one where there is happiness and no fear, one where connecting with ones children is greater than a basic acknowledgment and ensuring they are fed and have clean clothes. Slowly the ability to connect with family returns, once again driving the car, enter a large shopping centre but the ability to answer the phone or open the mail or turn on the computer, still a huge challenge, affected by the bullying done via email, phone and letter. Did anyone stand up, yes but only two completely, others reluctant too as it may affect future revenue in the negative if word gets out. To this day only those directly involved have the knowledge, the rest would have to lift up the dusty old carpet to find the truth and no one likes to touch it, it is already badly soiled. Vindicated yes, Stripped of Employment, Stripped of Confidence and Self Esteem, Stripped of feeling useful in the chosen field, made to feel weak, "You should have coped" constantly whispering and heard but only by one. Silence and Isolation very much ingrained in their reality. Scenario 3: The year 2007 Contributing online in forum, one invited back into after remaining silent for sometime. Six months of positive interaction, engagement. Learning for the contributor from the sharing, collaboration via discussion, hopefully learning too for all others within the community and engaged in specific threads. A post, admittedly that is long, intentions pure, one link may disappear, thus all contained at the link, is copied to the post. Not all fits within one post, so breaks it up to ensure that all links, 1000 of them are captured and stored in the community for future reference, after all the post was specifically designed for Resources/Links. Attacks begin but not only against the contributor, derogatory comments, demeaning the efforts of all within the community who do not agree, with one entity. An overwhelming sense of responsibility, after all it was the multiple posts (first time ever done), caused the ruckus. Told in the past to encourage members to travel down the agree to disagree path, that is the one chosen, no notice taken, instead attacks continue, guidance offered, specialists to seek offered, validation of the persons position, trying to steer them into creating a thread of their own. Still no notice taken and person advised frankly that enough is enough, it is all tiring, unwarranted, unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Publicly advised that the forum management would be asked to intervene. Management does so and person either cancels or has cancelled the privilege of belonging to the community due to their actions. Back in posting, feeling secure and protected. Emails begin to come in, unpleasant and unwarranted, threatening and fraudulent. What was going on? Is this now going to see a continuation of the bullying publicly? Yes. Legal authorities advised, management advised. Supporters bolstering the spirit with public posts, encouragement to continue posting. Slam, the steel door shits, "We believe it would be best if you did not post for the time being"? Why? "Management are looking into the issue". What is going on now? I must have done something wrong? Reading through posts, Did I go to far? Was it wrong to let people see and know what was going on? Was it wrong to try and protect and value the contributors on the forum? If I had stayed quiet, none of this would have happened. "Ignore the trolls" spinning in the mind. Still no answers, supporters rallying, but management no talking, silenced and isolated from a community I had hoped I would bring some value to, wishing to repay all others for the value they have brought, past and present, into my personal and professional life. Complain, jump up and down, No, compliance, don't rock the boat, future work, contracts, tenders at risk, in fact a whole identity changed unable to act as one wishes, no voice in the community, no voice in the professional forum once a pleasure and honor to be a part of, Stripped again because of the actions of another, stripped because management themselves I fear are too scared to acknowledge the reality, turning into a matter of their survival and dispensing with anything that may be confronting or difficult. No personal grievance, politics is politics and all need to survive the best they can in such a world, sometimes though it may come at the expense of another. Silence, Isolation, Blaming oneself now a part of daily life. What is common in all three scenarios? Feelings, Thoughts and Actions
  • Fear
  • Incompetence
  • Blame
  • Silence and Silenced
  • Isolation/self and forced
  • Uselessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Stripped
  • Duress
  • Compliance
  • Lack of support
  • Erosion of confidence, self esteem
  • Rights but to assert is dangerous
Children of our world, suffer from bullying every minute of every day. Workers of our world suffer from bullying every minute of every day and I suggest that online contributors using any tool that connects them with others too suffer from bullying every minute of every day. Programs do not seem to be working, they are only as good as the support they are given. Children still learn "not to rock the boat" from an early age, for to do so only brings negative offerings into one's life. One learns of ones rights, but reads or hears how hard it is to assert ones rights, not many invite trouble into their worlds, but when it does enter, often it is easier to let it pass, let it go as the consequences of standing up may be dire. So what is the answer - I throw my hands in the air here - I do not know, is the plain and simple truth however I hope to learn from others, expert in this field so that I may do what I can, to change what appears to be an on-going and increasing battle, in our schools, our neighborhoods, our communities on and off line, our workplaces and other areas of engagement in the www.

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