Having an understanding of bullying is vital in the work place. Though bullying has become more talked about in recent years in regards to school settings it is important to understand that it can take place in all work environments. Bullying is made up of negative actions that are meant to harm a specific victim where an imbalance of power exists making it difficult for a victim to defend themselves against the tactics being used. It also is characterized by a difference in affect. The victim showing lots of emotion and the person doing the bullying often times void of any emotion or empathy.

Normal peer conflict will occur. It often happens amongst peers and is less frequent than bullying. It is accidental instead of the purposeful actions by a bully. In normal conflict, emotions are present by both parties as opposed to only the victim as previously mentioned. In normal peer conflict, remorse is present whereas with bullying the bully often has no remorse and rather blames the victim. Though harm can take place in normal conflict, in bullying the harm is more serious and may involve severe physical and/or emotional harm to the victim.

Though in some cases small levels of bullying can be ignored without harm, there are certain groups who are more vulnerable to bullying and its effects. Individuals whom are lacking social skills are more vulnerable to the harm of bullying. This includes people with learning and intellectual disabilities. Often times these individuals are also already isolated and therefore make easier targets for bullies. An individual who also has experienced past trauma is more likely to be impacted at a greater level by even small amounts of bullying. People with these issues must be supported in dealing with bullying as they will not often times have the tools on their own.

Key to having environments which are bully free, is education and awareness. Organizations should evaluate themselves and look at the various relationships present to determine if they are dignified and respectful. Often times bullying is a systemic issue. Organizations and schools should examine how administration deals with and treats staff. They should also examine staff to staff relationships. They should look for any signs of bullying in these levels of relationship. This insight may be helpful in determining how staff treats individuals served and how the individuals served relate to one another. If bullying behavior is found at any level of relationship, steps should be taken to move to a more respectful and dignified workplace.

Tim Geels – Director of Operational Instruction