Another Type of Bullying
It is great that States and the Federal Government have taken serious steps to address student-to-student bullying; be it face-to-face, or, of the cyber variety. However, sustained progress on this front could only result if equal attention is paid to adult-to-adult bullying. Why? More often than not, children’s behaviors mirror those of adults. This issue is not an easy one to discuss but it is important to discuss it because adult bullying has negative influences on the work environment.
Adult-to-adult bullying seems to have emerged as a management tool that is used either to control, or, to keep workers in a state of perpetual fear. In her article “Bullying the Teacher”, Pricialla Hall, notes that while teachers speak out against student bullying, they seem at loss when it comes to identifying when they themselves are being bullied, or, when a colleague is being bullied.
One of the bullying tactics she mentions is verbal abuse. Teachers charged with verbally abusing their students often lose their jobs. Does this happen to principals or other teachers who verbally abused their colleagues? Similar to the student variety, this type of bullying takes the form of derogatory remarks, insults and epithets often in the context of gossiping. Another form of adult bullying is the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of work performance, which takes the form of withholding resources and information. The teacher who is bullied is left out of the loop. Information that he/she needs to execute successful instruction is withheld. Imagine a teacher withholding pertinent information that students need to complete their assignments. Yet another form of adult bullying is the subtle types of aggression such as ignoring a person’s work contributions. While all other teachers are recognized for their hard work with the students, the bullied teacher remains unmentionable.
Bullying behaviors such as these are often amplified when mobbing is added to the mix. Mobbing is group bullying where other workers are solicited to create and maintain a hostile working environment for the individual being bullied. This results in the targeted individual being ostracized and anyone who sympathizes also receives the same treatment.
Allowing bullying to fester degrades morale, performance and an individual’s overall well-being. As such, it is a human rights issue. It is certain that students who witness these behaviors by the same adults, who tell them not to bully others, are less likely to take heed.
Hence, one of the best ways to truly combat student bullying is for districts and schools to ensure that policies about adult bullying are clear and are enforced. As it is written, “example is better than precept.”