Michelle Hoyt, Pillsbury, N.D., letter: Bullying happens in adulthood, tooWhat many people don’t seem to remember is that most schoolyard bullies don’t grow up and stop their habits of using bullying to demean other people. They move on into adulthood and often become abusive parents, spouses, co-workers and so on.
By: Michelle Hoyt,
PILLSBURY, N.D. — There has been much attention lately to cyberbullying as well as bullying in schools. Schools are getting on board with changes and attempts to stop this ongoing problem. This is long overdue and a needed area of attention.
But what many people don’t seem to remember is that most of those bullies don’t grow up and stop their habits of using bullying to demean other people. They move on into adulthood and often become abusive parents, spouses, co-workers and so on.
Employers need to realize that bullying harms everyone at work, not just the individual being bullied. Absenteeism, poor production, increased sick time and depression are just the beginning.
When supervisors find areas in their organizations with complaints and unusually frequent turnover, they should look carefully for a workplace bully.
Often, complaints have been made but ignored because the bully’s main talent is “kissing up to their managers,” possibly becoming friends with the more powerful people in the workplace and making others look bad.
Human Resources departments often do nothing and can prove nothing because the cover-up is cleverly done.
And because the bully’s other skills can include acting pleasant to everyone but their chosen victim, it may just be easier to not confront the bully.
People who experience bullying tend to suffer from stress-related disorders, depression and lowered self-esteem. Studies show the most common time for a heart attack is Monday morning. This is not a coincidence.
North Dakota is one of only a few states with no real laws on the books to help the victims of workplace bullies.
Lawmakers need to change this and not just at the schoolyard level. Employers and unions are beginning to recognize the harm done, and the smart ones are taking steps to stop it.
When people feel like they’re the target of a workplace bully, they should begin to document and keep track of incidents. They should report it to Human Resources every time it occurs.
But most of all, they should remember that although it is happening to them, it is not really personal because the bully likely is just adding another name to the list of people they’ve exercised power over.
Bullying is a technique for gaining this power; power that bullies enjoy. Therefore, they probably won’t stop bullying until they are forced to.
Again, North Dakota lawmakers need to do something so that the survivors of a bully in the schoolyard do not grow up to become the targeted victim yet again.