The “Silent Epidemic”
Recently, a lot of media attention has been given to the bullying epidemic that is taking place in American schools. Yet, while workplace bullying has existed for many years, it remains a silent epidemic.
Just what is being said today about bullies and their associated behaviors? According to Proactive Behavioral-Management, “A bully is a child who lacks empathy for his or her victim and has difficulty feeling compassion.” Encyclopedia of Children’s Health defines bullies as “aggressive children who repeatedly physically or emotionally abuse, torment, or victimize smaller, weaker, or younger children.”
Although children typically fall along a bully–victim continuum, bullying behaviors are not restricted to this population. A paradigm shift exists on this level resulting in adult bullies in the workplace victimizing other adults.
FYR: Bullies come in all ages, sizes, genders, races, religions and conduct business wherever they can.
What does workplace bullying look like? Repeated intimidation, threats, berating, teasing, and overworking are some of the many issues victims of workplace bullying endure on a day-to-day basis. Vartia (2001) examined the psychological effects of workplace bullying and found that the effects are great and continue long after the bullying incident has passed.
Let’s talk about one of the consequences of workplace bullying…
In Virginia, a recent suicide has become the subject of growing media attention. ABC News Money Magazine reported that Kevin Morrissey, a 52-year-old former managing editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR), committed suicide in 2010 near UVA’s campus. Morrissey, along with some of his co-workers, had been a victim of workplace bullying. Morrissey’s sister and co-workers alleged that Morrissey took his life only after his repeated complaints were ignored by VQR’s human resources department.
What can you do to defend yourself against a workplace bully? Monster.com has a two-part series titled, Workplace Bullying: What Can You Do?
If you are being victimized in your workplace, do not take matters into your own hands. Educate yourself on the appropriate ways to disarm the bully, then get involved–you are not alone.
The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), a nonprofit organization that educates the public about workplace bullying, conducted a 2010 survey and found that 35% of more than 53 million U.S. employees report experiencing bullying at work. Approximately 15% of workers witness bullying; the remaining 50% deny ever encountering workplace bullying, which is why it is referred to as the “silent epidemic.” Though many bullies are men and most targets are women, the WBI survey indicates that workplace bullying typically takes the form of same-gender harassment. Based on these findings, bullying is four times more common than other forms of harassment; these statistics are increasing. Unfortunately, there are no laws in the United States that protect employees from workplace bullying–get involved.
Click here to view the video presented by WBI, “Bullying Is Not Just A Kids Problem.”
Click here to view the video presented by ABC News, “Stress & Bullies at Work.”