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Bullying patterns that begin in the playground often have a
nasty habit of finding their way into the workplace
Today is the sixth annual National Day of Action
Against Bullying and Violence. The day is an initiative of the
Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group, a steering
committee that comprises all Australian education authorities.
And although the campaign is mainly targeted at school students, it's
something that has relevance for all of us.
Bullying comes in many different forms, including physical, verbal
and digital. Cyber bullying in particular has been garnering an
increasing amount of attention over the last couple of years.
Redefining bullying to include digital harassment over the internet
and mobile devices has been necessary as this is a reality for an
estimated 20% of Australian children.
The Safe Schools website defines bullying as "an ongoing misuse
of power in relationships involving a pattern of harmful verbal,
physical or social behavior".
While people in some circles (particularly academia and politics)
still disagree on what does and doesn't qualify as bullying, the very
fact that there's now a national conversation about it, supported by a
high-profile awareness campaign, can only be a good thing. And it's
definitely a huge improvement from decades past when bullying was
mostly just considered to be "what kids do".
These days, we know a lot more about the emotional and psychological
effects of bullying. And not just on the victim, but also how it
affects bystanders. People who witness bullying are encouraged to
speak out against it, instead of being passive onlookers thereby
allowing the bullying to continue unchallenged. Because bullying
patterns that begin in the playground often have a nasty habit of
finding their way into the workplace. It's become so common in some
industries and professions that it's practically a selling point –
like celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's aggressive and foul-mouthed
antics, which are now considered "entertainment".
Cyber bullying isn't the only new aspect of the issue that's been
facilitated by the digital age. It's not uncommon now for episodes of
public bullying to be filmed by witnesses for the sole purpose of
posting it onto the internet. Sometimes large brawls are organized via
social media networks, which mobilize many willing participants very
quickly to a particular place at a particular time, something that
wasn't really possible 20 years ago.
But whether there really are more instances of bullying these days or
if it just seems to be that way because of the many methods of
recording it now, the fact remains – bullying is still far too
prevalent for the issue to slip off the public radar. Even the fact
that phrases like "slut-shaming" and "one punch
attack" have become part of the vernacular shows how entrenched
certain types of bullying have become. Campaigns like the National Day
of Action Against Bullying and Violence continue to be an important
part of reprograming people's attitudes towards bullying.