October 19th, 2010

Office bullies target the educated

By Lemery Reyes, Newsdesk.org, Oct. 19, 2010

Bullies aren’t just kids in the playground anymore — they are also adults in the workplace, or lurking online.

As anti-bullying advocates try to push through new legislation at the state level, several new studies have found that bullying affects different people in different ways. In the workplace, bullying is more likely to target educated employees, while victims of online abuse are more likely to feel depressed and isolated.

An estimated 53.5 million Americans are reportedly bullied at work, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute.

The non-profit organization released their 2010 Workplace Bullying Survey this month based on interviews of over 6,000 adults in August, along with data comparing the recent survey with one they conducted in 2007.

Women bullying women is becoming more common at work

“There are many myths and misconceptions about workplace bullying advanced by disbelievers and opponents,” said the institute’s research director Dr. Gary Namie. “One portrayal is that bullying affects only the uneducated, unskilled workers.”

The participants were asked about experiencing mistreatment, sabotage, verbal abuse, threatening conduct, intimidation or humiliation at work, with 11 percent of workers with a college degree — and 7 percent of those without — responding that they are currently bullied in the workplace.

“Note that the respondents with more formal education reported a higher bullying rate,” added Namie.  “Not having a college degree was associated with a higher denial of bullying rate. Myth busted.”

Bullying, according to the organization, is “mistreatment severe enough to compromise a targeted worker’s health, jeopardize her or his job and career, and strain relationships with friends and family. It is a laser-focused, systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction. It has nothing to do with work itself. It is driven by the bully’s personal agenda and actually prevents work from getting done. It begins with one person singling out the target. Before long, the bully easily and swiftly recruits others to gang up on the target, which increases the sense of isolation.”

Writing on the institute’s website, Namie says that workplace bullies are “narcissistic” and “defensive,” and often target people who are effective, popular and helpful on the job — but who also may not be subservient, or not “sufficiently political.”

Among students, a survey by the National Institutes of Health found that depression is high among 6th to 10th graders who have been bullied through computers or cell phones.

“Notably, cyber victims reported higher depression than cyber bullies or bully-victims, which was not found in any other form of bullying,” the study authors wrote in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Bullies are teenagers, too.

They also report that “unlike traditional bullying which usually involves a face-to-face confrontation, cyber victims may not see or identify their harasser; as such, cyber victims may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack.”

Bullying has been in the news lately because of the rise of teen suicides and deaths within the LGBT community.

States such as New York and Massachusetts recently passed anti-bullying legislation to protect children in the public schools.

Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute is also directing a program to put similar protections in place at the state level for workers, via the Healthy Workplace Bill.

The proposed law was drafted by the Boston-based legal scholar David Yamada — but while it has been introduced in 17 U.S. states, has yet to be passed in any.

In Canada, the province of Saskatchewan banned workplace bullying in October 2007 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.




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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 at 5:41 pm and is filed under Bullying-Related Research, Healthy Workplace Bill (U.S. campaign), WBI in the News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. Jay Jacobus says:

    In management practice there are methods for resolving problems other than talking about them.

    Corrective action adresses an individual problem and preventive action removes the root cause.

    I have not heard of one bullying case that has been corrected nor one situiation that has been prevented.

    Strategic planning focuses on goals (eliminate bullying?) chooses intiatives and implements projects.

    Is the goal a milk-toast law or is the goal the elimination of bullying?

    The anti-bullying initiative has stalled, will continue to stall and will ultimately fail to eliminate bullying UNTIL…

    Good management practices are adopted.

    • Kachina says:

      From what I have personally seen and researched, I would agree for the most part with your perspective. I would alter your opening statement to read that in management THEORY there are methods for resolving prolems….I have seen no evidence of these theories implemented in the workplace. I have seen insincere attempts to create an appearance that appropriate practice was undertaken!

      I hope there are examples outside my sphere of reference, and that management generally will acknowledge that current practices undermine their legitimate interests.

      • Jay Jacobus says:

        A manager’s most basic objective is to get consistently good results out of his operation. If he is not doing this, he is not managing.

        This may sound theoretical but executives can and should make this a practical, monitored result of good management.

        Corrective action and preventive action are two methods for attaining consistency (there are other methods).

        Strategic planning focuses on improvements which is the second most important objective of a manager. Results of strategic management can be tracked as well.

        Consistency and Strategic planning form the heart and soul of good management.

        If your manager is not properly focused, he should be (gently) informed.

  2. TwilightZone says:

    I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing that those with higher education experience more bullying than those without. The study does not take into consideration cultural differences between the working class and the educated in defining workplace bullying. The educated are more likely to recognize when they’re being bullied whereas the uneducated tend to accept abusive behavior as a normal part of life.

    I don’t agree with the conclusions of the study, but I can understand its usefulness in advancing the healthy workplace bill. Change in the status quo rarely occurs from the bottom up; it needs to come from the top.

  3. Sandra says:

    Unless millions of people contact their State Assembly leaders to implement a Healthy Workplace law there will never be one. People need to get serious about this and stop talking about it and take action. Action is the only way we all can solve this problem. We need to send a sound message to bullies and management, indicating that their abusive behavior is very unacceptable.

  4. LB says:

    “Educated” is a relative term, I assume that by using the term educated in your article, you are refering to, having more education ?

    I believe that it’s not a matter of “being” more educated, that attracks bullies, but instead, it’s a matter of the bully’s perception of other’s as a threat, and I also believe that, bullies target those that do not “react” to bullies games in the way bullies want them to, so they do what they only know how to do, bully.

    So, at least in my opinion, it is a possible coincidence that, target’s have more “education”, and distinguish the difference between being bullied and having a genuine human interpersonal interaction.

    One can be highly educated without having any formal “education”.

    I think it also interesting to note, that many bullies have college Degrees, does this make them “educated” ?

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