Teaching Treasures™ Bullying information Article

Bullying at work and in the classroom.  

A bully is a person who hurts, persecutes or intimidates weaker people. (Collins Concise Dictionary 3rd edition, published by Harper Collins Publishers)

  • Bullying is sometimes not easy to define. It may involve beating or kicking. Threats, teasing and cruel acts are more common and can be more damaging.
  • The word 'bullying' is used to describe many different types of behaviour, ranging from teasing or deliberately leaving an individual out of a social gathering or ignoring them, too serious assaults and abuse. It can be an individual who is doing the bullying or a group of people.

A Dutch professional medical book, written in 1929 (Algemeene Ziekenverpleging 1929, DR J.B. Wolters U.M.) states that bullying exists in many age groups, from toddlers right through to adulthood and says it is often seen when there is a lack of love and discipline in early childhood and teenage years. Seventy-four years ago bullying was recognized as a serious problem in society and was addressed in professional medical books as such. Has anything changed?

Bullying in the work place!

The Australian Institute of Criminology Report 2001, states that bullying in the work place is on the increase. Bullying affects one in four workers and costs employers up to $12 billion a year, according to research by the head of one of the nation's leading employment agencies. Drake Personnel chief Diane Utatao, who was interviewed by AAP, 17th April 2001, said the antics of one serial bully in the workplace had the potential to reduce the performance of their victims by half, and that of other employees by up to 33%. Drake's figures were derived using a British formula which indicated that the previous year 50% of a total of 5,300 people surveyed had witnessed bullying at work in the previous five years.

Research has shown that bullying is getting worse and reported cases rose 120% for men and 80% for women. Sadly, permanent employees put up with the bullying in fear of losing their job. Even though the Victorian Government started a Code of Practice to stamp out bullying in the workplace it is still going to be a long haul. The Trade Union Survey Report 2001, Sharan Burrows said, more than half of the respondents to a trade union survey reported an unhappy and oppressive workplace, with 44% saying they were afraid to speak up.

Bullying in the armed forces!

Bullying in the army is not uncommon and is classed as unacceptable behaviour but many soldiers find it necessary to create tough images. Army chief Peter Cosgrove, stepped up his campaign back in 2001 to rid the army forces of bullies as reported in the West Australian Newspaper by R. Rose, Canberra. Some of the army's new code of conduct was introduced as follows:

  • Bring honour to your country, the army, your mates and yourself. Respect and use the army values of courage, initiative and teamwork.
  • Earn the trust and loyalty of your team. Don't let your mates down.
  • Be accountable for your actions and decisions. Encourage your mates to do the same.
  • Treat others as you want them to treat you.
  • Lead by example, look after all your people, all the time.
  • Have the courage to stand up for what is right and stop unacceptable behaviour.
  • Be honest, always.
  • Respect the differences in others (such as gender, personality, race or religious beliefs)
  • Make the chain of command work.
  • Use the military justice system; it's there to give you a fair go.

The above values are easily implemented in all work situations.

Online Bullying

Besides bullying in the workplace or armed forces, adults and children in this technology age are often bullied online. Online bullying occurs frequently to people who have websites on the Internet, which display their email address. Harrassing, unwanted and regular rude emails are classified as online bullying tactics and can be reported to special Government Departments within each country who will try to put a stop to it if they deem it is illegal bullying (or also called spam).

Sometimes it is best to ignore emails if you are bullied online or change email address but of course this is not always possible. People who bully others online are considered rude and unethical. These online bullies often think they can get away with their undesirable behaviour because they are not face to face with the receiver of their email but eventually they will be caught out. If you are being bullied online you can seek legal advice if you think it warrants to go to this extreme. Don't stand for online bullying!

Bullying in schools!

Bullying is also prevalent in many schools causing serious problems among teachers, parents and students. Bullying often adds to the already existing teenage peer pressures for older students while younger children suffer unnecessary stress often causing learning difficulties.

Believe it or not - teachers are often bullied by their work mates, giving rise to unproductive teaching strategies which in turn give students an unsatisfactory learning record. Principals sometimes bully teachers causing the school enormous financial losses as teachers come and go on a regular basis. One school turned over 21 teachers (teaching 5 and 6 year olds) in 12 months. The result of bullying was very evident there! Sadly, the children never learned to read and write properly for several years due to this bullying problem. It wasn't until the principal was removed by higher education department authorities that things settled down again for the better.

Bullying must be reported if you want things to change. If you are a teacher and you are bullied... please report the problem to the appropriate education department, if the principal does not resolve the problem. Your health and well-being may be at stake!

Children need to report bullies!

Children should report bullies. If the teacher does not resolve the problem, try the principal. If you have no satisfaction from the principal you must seek help from other education department authorities. This may prove more difficult than you anticipated but it may be worth while in the end. If bullies are left to their devices they may grow into adult bullies and who wants to work with them!

Some parents have taken their children out of the public or private education system because of the bullying by students and occasionally by teachers. These parents decided that home tutoring would be more beneficial for their children. They also found that the family bonding became stronger, Godly values could be easily added on a daily basis and their home educated children were more likely to steer away from youth related problems. These include satanic practices that infringe upon the law, teen suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, crime, promiscuity, teen pregnancy, abortion and the list goes on.

Here are some things children can do to stop bullying at school:

Have a quiet talk with the person being bullied, encourage them to seek help from the principle, teacher, parent or mature aged friend. The bullied person should then be encouraged to explain what is happening, a student could offer to speak to one of the above on the bullied persons behalf. Be determined to see that the bullying is stopped, raise the issue of bullying in discussions in subjects like English, drama or social studies, make sure teachers and parents know what is going on.

Here are some things you should not do.

Don't encourage a person who is being bullied to try and solve the problem on their own. Please help them solve the problem. Being violent is not a good way to solve a bullying problem, if you choose this method, you may well be accused of being a bully yourself. Don't try to deal with the problem on your own. Always involve other people.

Finding out that your child is being bullied is a distressing experience.

Children are very good at hiding their feelings and it can be distressing for parents to suddenly find out that their child is being bullied. Signs of being bullied may be exhibited in the following behaviour, your child may have sleeping problems or could be apprehensive in their behaviour. Your child may fall out with some of their friends, loose money you have given them for lunch or other school events, unexplainable cuts, bruises or tears in clothes. Your child could be unusually quiet, temperamental and hostile to family members. You could also notice a drop in academic standard, or a reluctance to leave your home. If your child frequently asks to replace textas, pens and even books, the items could have been stolen or destroyed by the bully. Watch out for these signs!

Ablution blocks, corridors and playgrounds are often a bully's territory. Find out where the bullying occurs, tell the principal where the bullying is happening and supervision can be (and should be) implemented so that the bullies are caught red handed and stopped.

Schools have a variety of actions they can take to stop bullies.

Usually schools take several steps before involving police. Schools do vary their protocol on this issue but usually the first step is to issue a stern warning to the bully and call the parents to talk about the problem. If this does not help, detention is usually the next step a school may take as a disciplinary action. If a short detention does not help, a bully may be expelled from school for longer periods or even permanently. An interesting bullying experience is described below.

What happened?

A Secondary school was experiencing severe bullying problems from one particular boy who belonged to a gang. Bullied students were scared to speak up as the bully had a gang of others backing him up after school hours. These gang members did not go the school anymore and were therefore out of reach for discipline by the principal. Due to lack of evidence, the police did nothing.

The bullying continued for more than a year until one boy, I'll call him J.J. to protect his identity, decided enough was enough. Although J.J. was never actually bullied he witnessed the bullying going on each day during and after school hours.

J.J. had been training in several self defense sports and explained the bullying problem to his trainer. His trainer expressed that one should never use his defense and fighting skills unless an attack occurred. J.J. wanted to stop the bullies once and for all. The atmosphere among his friends at school was getting worse and going to school was becoming a drudge. His trainer re-iterated that J.J. must be attacked first and have witnesses to back this up should police get involved.

J.J. decided that he would face the bully, who was taller, more solid and carried a flick-knife at all times. He also decided that he would not 'down him' unless he was attacked.

Several days later J.J. witnessed the bully at work again and was able to put a stop to it for the time being but was told by the bully that he'd get him after school. News spread throughout the school grounds that a fight may be taking place after hours. When school finished, the bully was waiting with three other gang members for J.J. 

Calm and totally un-intimidated J.J. stood his ground and waited for the bully to attack. He 'downed' them all with ease. No charges were laid against J.J. as witnesses clearly stated it was self defense.

The bully was removed from school and the gang broke up over the whole incident. Some of the gang members were taken into police custody and charged. Some time later the principal thanked J.J. and he was stunned to learn that the principal, his wife and his daughter had been threatened by this gang for over six months. They all looked forward to a happier future.

Ideal or Not!

I'm leaving it up to you to decide whether or not J.J.'s solution to the bullying problem was correct or not.

More information on bullying can be found here. >>> Bullying web sites

Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

© 2000 Griggs I. M. - Teaching Treasures Publications Other Articles by Ingrid Griggs

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