Bullying remains one of the few endemic abuses which society appears to tolerate.
What adults seem to tolerate as a childhood rite of passage it’s a harmful persecution which reveals itself within an environment – the school – whose safety is taken for granted, through different types of aggression.
Bullying hurts everyone, everywhere. Nevertheless the pattern of bullying is persecution.
Someone who is bullied is aware to be at the centre of a persecution. It doesn’t matter what the context is, who the persecutors are, what the root cause is, which the means and the forms are.
The persecution is ever the same.
The same are the mechanisms of generation, the same are the violence escalation, the same are the effect on the victims. No boundaries apply to bullying, neither cultural, nor geographical or socio-economic.
Everyone becomes a victim without doing anything. There are no exceptions.
There is no way to escape, no way to be sure of not being the next target.
You could be perfectly in the average, undistinguishing from the others, not standing out from the rest but this might not protect you from being bullied.
Bullying hits kids and teens numbing them emotionally, causing nightmares and sleep problems, impairing school performance and leading to aggressive behavior.
Bullying may also generates bullying. Bullied teens may become bullies. Every school is at risk, every kid, every teen.
Bullying can be subtle, both psychological (such as spreading rumors or excluding someone) and verbal (making threats or demeaning).
Prevention should be the golden rule. Everywhere it is necessary to take steps to stop it from happening. Prevention should be every school’ s responsibility.
Bullying endangers everyone’s safety in school and is also detrimental for the whole learning cycle. Indeed the violence spiral is always perverse.
Fright, vulnerability and stress at school are a powerful magnet for bullies’ systematic and continuous persecuting attitudes.
A hostile environment generates hostile interactions among pupils.
Fear feeling are more harmful in pupils than in adults. Rates of bullying in primary and in secondary are worrying.
But only a very few percentage of them tell a teacher or own parents being bullied.
And that circumstance has relevant implications, among the worst and more perverse consequences of bullying.
Firstly because keeping the silence with teachers and parents make them more and more weakened because they lack the support from those who could help them.
Secondly because for that reason they remain isolated, excluded, alone and fall easily prey to bullies.
Where are the peers?
Peers neither see nor listen. Neither help nor bully.
The peers abstein intervening, bystand apart and separate.
Unless they are made to feel they have an obligation to act, they will stay silent. Perhaps they are bullies’ accomplices.
But so by doing, they engage themselves in the persecutory mechanism as the bullies do and the bully’s gregaries.
Their silence strengthens the abuse. Those who deliberately tolerate the bullying-related abuse, silently collude with it.
What are the most common forms that bullying takes?
Bullying is often emotional, through exclusion, emargination, social outcast.
Physical bullying isn’t heavier than verbal or emotional one.
Emotional bullying is as heavy as the other form of bullying because the victim feel a deep and dark sense of insecurity and perceives themselves as being in a net, with no exit, crushed by the incapacity to face such enormous problem.
Bullied pupils can’t defend themselves; they don’t know how to face the perverse power a bully has over them.
Parents and school can’t let them alone. They have to listen to them even when they aren’t speaking.
They must pay attention to their behaviours, trying distinguishing changes, insecurity or early fear signals.
To raise awareness about bullying is a precise school responsibility and is up to school to intervene.
Who are the bully’s target ?
Anyone is the bully’s target.
But the ones more vulnerable and the weaker stay much more unsecure, defenceless and easily fall prey to persistent and neverending abuses and persecutory behaviours.
Bullied pupils are forced by fear being passive and silent. They don’t oppose, don’t refuse violence, don’t defend themselves because they are alone and feel alone. No one supports them, neither peers for fear of reprisals nor teachers who ignore the facts.
Encouraging the reporting of bullying along with a strong school policy and commitment to respect each other might be an immediate intervention.
Victims of bullying are more likely to develop mental health problems than other children, and bullies are also more likely to have problems as they get older.
In an effort to reduce violence and aggression in schools due to bullying, a large percentage of schools now offer programs that teach anger management, discourage bullying, teach tolerance or raise awareness about psychosocial risk related to bullying.
Depression is supposed to be often a problem for bullied children in adolescence due to social rejection and social outcast.
Parents need to be aware of such risk and be willing to talk about it with their kids and teens.
One is ten thousand to me. What does it mean?
It’s an Heraclitus’ quote and one of the strongest belief I have.
I got really inspired by Heraclitus’ thought to the point that I strongly believe that Heraclitus was certainly engaged as I am in raising awareness and fighting bullying throughout all his thought-provoking sayings.
I’ll demonstrate why right away: firstly, I will clarify the intrinsec meaning of his teaching about change (Panta rhei, “everything flows”) and secondly his strong anti-bullying commitment.
No man ever steps in the same river twice. On those entering the same river, more water flows over and over again. This is the famous Heraclitus’ saying on ever-present change in the universe.
“Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers“.
Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream.
All has been continously changing. What we experience changes us.
We are the same while changing and are still changing while being the same.
What makes us ever-different is awareness.
By assuming that every experience , either good and bad, makes sense in raising awareness, perhaps bad experiences are more effective in building awareness because of the suffering, the pain and the tormet they let on you.
The more the suffering the bigger and faster the awareness.
In such cases, awareness starts as soon as you take off the mask and abandon silence.
Awareness begins once you earn self-confidence.
Awareness makes you speak loud to be heard. Awareness makes you ready to draw your sword and fight it out, once you have overcome fear, which is the worst enemy.
And your words become alike swords. So as in fighting bullying.
Only then can bullying be openly denounced, tackled and managed both as a personal problem and as collective emergency and social stigma.
Denounce it to make it known and censure such a bad behaviour. Whatever form bullying has, however many appearances it may have, it’s vital to find adequate answers and real solutions.
Victims are first of all human beings, who are exposed to continuous aggression, humiliation, persecution, violation, and in case of workplace bullying, professional step down.
They don’t react because the don’t know exactly what they’re experiencing. They think it depends on something they have or don’t have done.
That’s wrong, this is exactly what bullies would victims think about themselves.
For that reason those who experience bullying or engage themselves in fighting bullying can’t step in the same river twice.
No one is any longer the same he was before.
Back to the thesis of Heraclitus’ commitment in fighting bullying, the reason is hidden in the following fragment.
“The Ephesians deserve, man for man, to be hung, and the youth to leave the city, inasmuch as they have banished Hermodorus, the worthiest man among them, saying: “Let no one of us excel, and if there be any such, let him go elsewhere and among other people.”
Instead of “We will have none who is best among us” Heraclitus declares ” One man is ten thousand, if he is the best“.
In most of cases bullying occurs on victims distinguishing themselves from the others, for beauty, knowledge, influence, thought, ethics, beliefs, energy or simply noticeable for being different and thinking differently from the mass.
The bullies strive to stalk and chase away people that are independent, different, influent, and unwilling to follow them and being prone.
Hermodorus was one of those who stand out. So he would have been elsewhere and among others.
As Hermodorus is ten thousand to Heraclitus so one is ten thousand to me.
Saving one life is worthier to me more than being followed by ten thousand who don’t really need me.
Moses managed to write the Ten Commandments using just 180 words.
So will I, to raise awareness about bullying.
1. Show the right way to those who are roving or have lost their way and reached a dead end
2. Light up the lives of those who live in the dark or lie blind
3. Give a voice and hearing to those who have no voice and are mute
4. Bring truth to where the truth is hidden or fiddled
5. Provide means and answers to those who have no means to find or ask
6. Give courage to those who live in a continuous fear having no long desire to go on their own lives
7. Give a sense of drive and direction to those who stand still and unsure
8. Inspire a sense of justice by raising awareness and disseminating knowledge of legislation along with facilitating interpretations of the case law on the subject
9. Inspire confidence in those who have lost hope, self-esteem and faith so that they may save their own lives
10. Promote social engagement, solidarity and social justice against all forms of bullying as cyberbullying, workplace or school bullying, abuse, harassment, violence and discrimination
How people react to bullying? They don’t.
People rarely talk about their bullying experience because they are afraid and are ashamed.
Basically they can’t react until they understand they need.
Instead they must.
Because if they react to bullying they become strongest ever.
How should they react to bullying?
I would recommend to adopt my 5 Fs Golden Rule in reacting to bullying:
- Forget fear
- Focus on HOW, expecially if someone condemn you to answer any sort of W-based questions about your bullying experience (WHAT-WHO-WHY-WHEN-WHERE)
- Find partners, alliances and sponsors
- Feign yourself dead
- Face the bully
This is the golden rule to fight bullying without feeding the bullies.
Bullying has unhealthy consequences in the workplaces that foster or tolerate it, where health does not matter.
I would like to clarify that by means of three consequent statements:
- main effects of workplace bullying are fright, vulnerability and stress
- fright, vulnerability and stress at work mean an increased incidence of mood and anxiety disorders
- there’s a strong causality between the employer’s persecuting behaviours and the sudden onset of depression and distrust in bullied employees, expecially in those less secure and emotional or undergoing workplace restructuring or downsizing.
Not only are fright, vulnerability and stress at work an overpowering magnete for bullies’ systematic and continuous persecuting attitudes such as sarcasm, harsh criticism, unlawful conducts, emotional outbursts, but they are also a threatening harm for bullied employees because of the increasing risk of suffering simultaneosly from anxiety and depression.
Depression and anxiety are so paralyzing for bullied employees that they find it hard to seek help for three reasons:
- firstly because they are afraid
- secondly because they are unware of the intentional persecution against them and don’t know that bullies are sistematically brewing some kind of trouble up
- then they believe that nothing could overcome the juggernaut bearing down because of self-sustaining hopelessness.
That is why illness gets worse while workplace bullying goes on crushing employees with bad consequences all around in terms of morale and health worsening and psychosocial risks increase.
Occupational health is not only related to safety and security but also to mental well-being.
Everything or everyone endangering such an important asset as health is a great risk for the employee, the workplace itself and the business.
Health is not something we can take for granted; we have to work on it every day.
Managing and preventing work-related physical and psychosocial risks in order to promote and generate healthy working behaviours and an healthy environment is a priority everywhere, for every business, for every workplace.
Understanding the stress phenomenon and related threats through a multi-disciplinary approach encompassing psycho-sociology, medicine, industrial relations and labour law would make it possible to identify push and pull stress factors in order to prevent and minimize health risks.
Workplace bullying awareness, monitoring and prevention make it possible to reduce stress levels and health risks.
Thus, back to the thesis at the beginning of this post, healthy workplaces where health matters are surely bully-free.
While blogging about workplace bullying I can’t stay indifferent to suffering of those workers who are the victims of workplace bullying behaviour.
They don’t ask for help. They don’t know why it happens. They are silent, insecure, defenceless, vulnerable.
They are victims of workplace bullying violence twice. Firstly, when bullying practices hit them and forced them to resign or lose job, then when they lost their health.
Bullying nature is non-transitory and the worst downsides are the radical changes in workers’ lives and the irreversible and often dramatic consequences.
The results of a recent study about workplace bullying, violence and harassment at the behest of the European Agency for Safety and Health Administration (EU-OSHA) on a population of bullied workers with the support of a team of psychologists, sociologists and trade unionists are quite self explaining and dramatically shocking:
- 39% of the interviewees changed their job,
- 28% separated/divorced from their spouse,
- 54% isolated themselves from friends,
- 33% faced economic problems,
- 49% suffered from various psycho-physical pathologies,
- 75% were demoted,
- 40% stopped working,
- 53% turned to the courts
- one interviewee committed suicide.
Not only does work satisfy economic needs, it also gives a social status that allows individuals to express themselves. But if you’re a victim of workplace bullying, work can become the root cause of great suffering and bad life changes.
Building and raising awareness is a moral obligation and a social need in order to make business and workplaces healthier and human-centered.