Saturday, April 9, 2011

H: Harassment & Health - Bullying

Harassment covers a wide range of offensive behaviour. It is commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset, In the legal sense, it is behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing. Sexual harassment refers to persistent and unwanted sexual advances, typically in the workplace, where the consequences of refusing are potentially very disadvantageous to the victim. (Wikipedia) 

The bully will often humiliate the target, sometimes publicly. I'm sure each country has their own devastating cases, so I won't go into local details. Enough to say the consequences of bullying can be fatal.

Being bullied is like feeling
you're inside a cage
with no means of escape.
Health: Serial bullying is known to have long term affects on your health and it has been hypothesised that the result of long term stress may lead to brain damage. Targets may take increased sick leave, become forgetful, hyper-vigilant, lose enthusiasm for life in general, become confused and lack motivation.

Sleep may become extremely broken with nightmares becoming frequent. Constant fatigue is the result, leading to lack of reserves when ill-health strikes. Flashbacks can occur resulting in panic attacks. There may be a feeling of having been betrayed, leaving the bullied person with feelings of worthlessness and vulnerability.

Employers who encourage, expect or tolerate stressful (or bullying) regimes where employees have little control over their environment (such as police, military, emergency services etc) or where victims are blamed rather than supported are contributing to the poor health of its workforce.  As I mentioned previously they may be violating the right of workers to a safe workplace.

It doesn't help to "kick 'em while they're down"
Legislation was introduced in Australia this week (April 2011) to tackle the problem and those found guilty could face jail. News article here.

In the same week, the Australian defence forces have another reported incident of serious bullying of a female recruit, and a teacher was withdrawn from class for abusing children in his class.

I wonder how many schools that teacher has been in, and how many covered up and simply moved him on rather than take appropriate action. How many parents didn't listen or believe their child? How many parents are intimidated by the education system and lack the confidence to complain? How many parents who find the courage and strength to complain are told "We'll take care of this. Trust us"? ... and nothing happens.

The Lucky Country?
Or a place that needs to tackle some serious endemic problems

Here tomorrow: Intimidation & International Students

How to do a hyperlink signature here

There are many outstanding resources on line. A couple I find useful are Bullying. No way! an Australian resource for teachers and students, and a UK site Bully On Line. This is in no way an exhaustive list, and each country will no doubt have equally good or more relevant websites. If you're being bullied please seek advice from a professional health care practitioner experienced in this area.

Over at jumpingaground I'm spending the month Drabbling using alliteration, mostly with a climate related theme.


Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I was teaching in a building where the principal (a former marine) was sexually harrassing several of the young female teachers. The teachers being young felt helpless and the principal was the "golden" child of the district and lots of things were swept under the rug and he kept getting bolder and bolder. Until he sent out a highly inappropriate email that resulted in him losing his job, sadly most of those young teachers either left teaching or left that building because it was too hard for them to keep going there every day even though he was gone.

Thanks for doing such an important post.

sue said...

Sharon, thanks for sharing. It disgusts me that many of these serial bullies get away scott free, while their targets suffer, often for years.Meanwhile, the bully goes on to continue the abuse elsewhere probably smirking because they've conned their superiors.

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Powerful Woman Writer Award.
Go to and pick up your award.

Anonymous said...

I was reading through your A to Z blog challenge posts and I am amazed. You've tackled a subject most people want to ignore and pretend it doesn't exist. As a former social worker, I was staunch advocate for my clients, especially when I learned they were being bullied in school or another formal setting. I was bullied by classmates in school one year and that ONE year left a mark on me. No one should ever have to endure that. EVER. Thank you, again. I'm sharing your blog with my friends. :)

fiziskandarz said...

thanks for sharing sue! this is indeed an interesting topic. i really hate bully. if the bully is really that tough and all, why on earth they never pick someone their own size? :P

sue said...

Deirdra, thankyou so much. I'll visit asap.
Hunterslyonesse, I agree, many people seem to hope that if you ignore bullying it'll evaporate, unfortunately the bully sees that as "silence = acceptance or consent"
fisiskandarz, A taste of their own medicine? It's what we want to do isn't it.

Buck said...

Well, I don't actually consider this is likely to have success.
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