Bullying

Lesson 1: Topic 5 of 9

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Bullying is not just exhibited on the playground: it is a behavior that spans multiple demographics and age groups.

Dr. Kathleen Weissberg lnha lnfa rcal ala hcbs renewal NAB NCERS CEU Culture
Yan Krukov on Pexels lnha lnfa rcal ala hcbs renewal NAB NCERS CEU Culture

A broad collection of antisocial behaviors happen at work: emotional abuse, intimidation, obscene or profane speech, sabotaging coworkers or taking credit for their work, screaming, stalking (including cyberstalking), threatening others verbally or in writing, and many other kinds of disruptive or potentially dangerous conduct. Many times it’s labeled “bullying,” – which really is a childish term, but since the concept is cemented in Americans’ vocabulary, we’ll continue to use it. 

It may be childish, but it’s not happening just among children; almost one-third of Americans report that they’ve been bullied at work. The results are quite real and quite serious. Depression and withdrawl, alcoholism and substance abuse, suicidal ideation, and even PTSD can result from enduring bullying over a long enough period of time. 

At the workplace, bullying can come from not only sadistic coworkers but also manipulative bosses and disgruntled customers. In certain settings, such as the medical field, it can happen between caregiver to client, client to caregiver, or client to client. And the people harmed can be not only the bully’s victims but those who witness it happening, as well. 

Bullies are by definition violent people, even if their violence is usually more psychological than physical. If left unchecked, they can escalate persecution from simple assault to aggravated assault to battery. Another reality is that the bully’s target may snap under pressure and initiate violence against his or her tormentor. As a representative of your firm, it would be prudent to weigh severing the employment of a staff member who bullies coworkers, regardless of how productive or valuable this person is. It doesn’t matter how unlikely you think he or she would be to carry out those threats. This is especially the case if your attempts to get them to stop their damaging behaviors aren’t successful. Termination recommendations are covered in another section of this course. 

Bullying has also been linked to rapid cognitive decline in elderly victims, so even if there’s no physical contact, the bully’s actions negatively impact quality of life. Estimates suggest 10-20% of older adults in senior living settings are mistreated by peers, and often those acts go unreported or unnoticed by staff. If an incident of violence occurs against a resident in a Skilled Nursing Facility or other long term care setting, regardless of the perpetrator, leadership must contact state authorities. The time frame for doing so is established by the specific State entity having regulatory oversight, such as Health and Human Services or the Department of Aging and Disability Services. This reporting is in addition to notifying the police. After the initial report, an investigation must take place, and a final report submitted within the state’s established timeframe.