Tips to build an anti workplace bullying culture.

We continually read about claims from victims of bullying in their workplace, or whistleblowers who report oppressive workplace cultures that condone bullying and discrimination.

Bullying alive and unwell

Not everyone is sure of what constitutes bullying, sometimes being too quick or slow to label behaviours that ultimately pose health and safety risks, costing companies millions every year through lost productivity. It’s essential in the first instance to know that workplace bullying is a clear sign of incompetent management.

The problem with three wise monkeys

It’s amazing how many companies (and institutions) have a “zero tolerance” approach to bullying, yet resemble the three wise monkeys. The monkeys could “see no evil, hear no evil” and they certainly spoke “no evil”. In companies where bullying occurs, this really constitutes the bulk of the problem.

Here’s three steps to build an anti-bullying culture at work.

1. See what’s going on and recognise bullying

Bullying is fairly easy to recognise as it constitutes repeated harassment (physical or psychological), exclusion, and setting unreasonable expectations and parameters (so that a person will fail). In the recent horror story concerning the traumatising of a 16-year-old apprentice, the manager unconscionably allowed his workers to bully the youth, and indeed joined in. The company copped a fine, but the youth may be experiencing severe psychological damage that could last many years. It is bad enough when management looks the other way, but jumping in for good measure takes workplace bullying to new lows.

2. Listen for patterns of bullying

If hurt is perceived, then it’s been received; though granted, things can get lost in translation. There’s no mistaking a pack in action – they’re in lynch-mode, chiming in, converging on (usually) one or a minority of people. It’s fairly easily spotted in cyber-bullying – the stridency of people’s interactions can’t be missed – but may be less obvious when (for example) a performance review is being conducted between two people. A recent survey of law firms found that the bulk of complaints about bullying arose from performance reviews that consisted of supervisors’ blunt or tactless assessments.

3. Speak up if you are aware of a bullying

Bystanders are often reluctant to verbally wade in when a bully is having a go at someone. It takes courage to defend an outsider / victim but silence may be construed as condoning the practice. It is noticeable when nothing is said. Moreover, it’s no good having some employees or management chortling over “political correctness” (while reserving the right to be judgmental themselves) or defending the need for “robust” discussions or unsolicited comments when others are continually experiencing offence or hurt.

Tips for less assertive staff to improve their emotional boundaries

Don’t put yourself down; instead recognise your own worth.

Don’t give in all the time; instead be assertive and proud.

Don’t lapse into negativity; instead move forward by caring for yourself.

Don’t stop learning and developing; instead unlock your potential.

Tips for those with domineering personalities

Don’t block self-awareness; instead understand your feelings and biases.

Don’t be moody or over-react; instead manage your emotions.

Don’t be insensitive; instead care about how others feel.

Don’t withdraw; instead communicate and connect with people.

Don’t be someone protesting the “right” not to “tread on eggshells” with staff; instead handle the eggs with care. Accountabilities need to be clearly in place for all to see, but also the expectations of a civil and civilised environment for people to carry out their work, feeling valued and safe.

Read more.

Trolls encourage kids to kill themselves

STUDENTS at northern beaches schools have been caught urging fellow students to kill themselves on social media.

Leonie Smith, who runs the Cyber Safety Lady business, said online bullying was on the increase and kids thought up the most horrific things they could say to each other without realising the tragic consequences.

“Kids are saying things like, ‘go kill yourself’ and ‘you should go and die’,” said Ms Smith, adding that police were increasingly having to deal with social media disputes in schools.

Generic picture of child on social media

She warned this type of behaviour was a “matter of life and death”.

“Some may be able to cope with that kind of abuse if they have strong support around them and the right constitution,” said Ms Smith. “But if not, it could lead to another Charlotte Dawson.”

Ms Dawson, a TV personality, killed herself after a history of online battles with trolls, a name given to people who abuse others online.

Ms Smith said while social media was a part of everyone’s lives now, online bullying was a growing issue in schools.

She said it was important parents educated themselves so they were better able to deal with what happens on social media.

Ms Smith said there were many strategies parents could put in place to help prevent online bullying and nip it in the bud if it happened to their child.

Youth liaison officer Senior Constable Robyn Jennings said police were often asked to come into schools to talk to children about online safety and etiquette, and give about two to four talks a week to children as young as eight. She warned children may not be aware they could be breaking the law with some of the things they write on social media.

Cyber Safety Lady’s next free talk for parents is on September 6, 7-8.30pm, at Barrenjoey High, Tasman Rd, Avalon Beach.

If you have a problem, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Tips to fight trolls:

■Accept social media is part of your child’s life and get educated

■Try and be in earshot or eyeshot of your child while they’re on social media and see how they’re reacting

■Encourage them to tell you if they are concerned about what’s happening online

■Make sure you get a screenshot of any nasty comments for evidence

■If it’s someone you don’t know block them

■It’s not always best to block someone you know, it can lead to others joining in

■Tell a teacher if it involves children at school

■If you don’t get the response you need keep taking the issue higher

■Contact police for advice

 Don’t react to abusive comments, trolls love drama

Read more.

Mum demands 3 strike policy for bullies.

A FRUSTRATED Brisbane mother is calling for an overhaul of school bullying policies after her Year 12 daughter began self-harming after years of systematic bullying at her state high school in Brisbane’s southern suburbs.

The mother, who The Sunday Mail has agreed not to name, has created a petition, lobbying Education Minister Kate Jones to introduce a compulsory “three strikes” anti-bullying policy across Queensland schools.

The mother said she was fed up that her complaints “fall on deaf ears” at her daughter’s school, and she wants principals to be compelled to warn, suspend, then expel students for cruel, bullying conduct.

A mother comforts her bullied 13-year-old daughter, who has taken to social media to talk about her experiences, which include being told to “Go kill yourself”. Picture: Jamie Hanson

“Right now, schools in Queensland are individually responsible for implementing anti-bullying programs – there’s no compulsory bullying policy or repercussions for schools that breach them,” the concerned mum said.

A mother comforts her bullied 13-year-old daughter, who has taken to social media to talk about her experiences, which include being told to “Go kill yourself”. Picture: Jamie Hanson

A mother comforts her bullied 13-year-old daughter, who has taken to social media to talk about her experiences, which include being told to “Go kill yourself”. Picture: Jamie Hanson

The 17-year-old teenager, who spoke to The Sunday Mail, said she suffered a breakdown this year and has been seeking treatment from Headspace.

The teen confessed that she began self-harming in a desperate bid to manage the emotional pain she was suffering.

Her story comes as another teenage girl has taken to social media to talk about how she has been bullied at her school, north of Brisbane, to the extent of being told, “Go kill yourself”.

Education Minister Kate Jones says Queensland schools are working “really hard” to address bullying issues and promote a culture of respect. Picture: Tim Marsden

The 13-year-old Year 8 student says on the Facebook video that the past seven months of school have been “torture”.

The girl told The Sunday Mail: “I just want to go to school to learn, but I don’t feel safe there.

“When I wouldn’t go to school for a couple of days and then I’d go back, they’d say: ‘We thought you’d gone and killed yourself. Nobody likes you.’ ”

Her mother, who has twice complained to the school about the attacks, said her daughter’s grades had suffered as she had missed 22 days of school, mostly because of the bullying.

The school’s principal said it had been working closely with the girl and her mother to resolve their concerns.

Ms Jones said Queensland schools were working “really hard” to address bullying issues and promote a culture of respect. But she warned that a three strikes and you’re out policy could actually result in anti-bullying measures being watered down in state schools.

The incidents come after The Courier-Mail revealed another young Queensland student at a central Queensland high school received an outpouring of support after she posted a desperate online petition claiming school bullying was killing her.

While online platforms facilitate cyber-bullies, they also offer an avenue for victims to expose the conduct they have been subjected to.

Acting Children’s eSafety Commissioner Andree Wright said while online platforms facilitate cyber-bullies, they also offer an avenue for victims to expose the conduct they have been subjected to.

If you or someone you know needs help call:

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Lifeline 131 114

BeyondBlue 1300 224 636

Read more.

Anti-bullying policies are working… for the bullies

The Daily Telegraph

I’ve seen first-hand the devastating impact of sustained bullying on a child where the stress of going to school each day takes a toll on their health, their sleep, their learning and their self esteem.

The effects are real and long lasting, sometimes taking years to recover from.

But despite years of policy making and hand wringing, bullying continues to be endemic in our schools. Worse still, bullies are using anti-bullying policies to their advantage.

I’ve seen schools try to deal with the problem: from telling the victim to harden up and make more of an effort to fit in, to asking other children in the class to just be nice.

Occasionally, if caught early enough, it can be sufficient to put a stop to it but often it has very little success so that finally, parents who have the option take the last resort and move their child to another school for a fresh start.

And for the skilled bully, a school’s anti-bullying policy can be one of their best weapons.

The best bullies keep it below the radar with snide comments, making fun while no one is looking and leaving kids out of games or off invitation lists for parties and sleepovers. At a high school level, something as simple as who sits where in the classroom or the playground is an effective tool for the bully to control the social order.

The trick is to keep it low key so that reporting an individual incident looks petty or open to interpretation.

Another important tool in the bully’s arsenal is having associates to do their dirty work for them, hunting out useful information and spreading rumours so if it all goes pear shaped, the bully’s hands are clean.

I’ve seen kids who are so adept at this, the school staff are oblivious to their behaviour and the more charming bullies have risen to positions of leadership as they reach their final years of schooling.

While anti-bullying events make for lovely photos in the school newsletter and written policies on school websites make for a nice mention on open day, the problem is not improving. Indeed, it feels more like a PR exercise as the genuine victims continue to suffer and the perpetrators get off scot-free. Again.

Instead of schools looking to protect themselves from litigation down the track, perhaps they would be better placed to put students at the centre of their concerns and ask them what works and importantly, what isn’t working.

Then we might get somewhere.

Read more.

Cyberbullying Instagram to rollout new update

Cyberbullying Instagram attacks

Cyberbullying Instagram attacks are being tackled with a new update

Cyberbullying Instagram: Undeniably, Instagram is one of the most popular and widely used applications right now, particularly for young people. The social media platform is continuing to evolve by brewing another update which mainly aims to promote anti-harassment and decrease the incidents of cyberbullying.

On the Instagram platform, cyber bullying usually takes place in the comment section, especially when one posts a picture of themselves.

Cyber bullying attacks can turn into really mean bashing sessions which can really ruin one’s day, or worse, morale.

The Washington Post reports that Instagram aims to lessen cyberbullying and intensify anti-harassment features by allowing users to create a personalized list of banned words.

Another update to be rolled out for Instagram to curb anti-harassment involves giving the user an option to disable photo comments. This option can be used on a single photo basis, which makes it easier for the user to screen bashers and bullies.  As of now, Instagram has its own filter for unpleasant comments, but it would be more effective if users would be given the chance to personalize and modify a list of banned words or phrases.

Cyberbullying Instagram update

Although Instagram is not really notorious in being an avenue for cyberbullying, people are still appreciative of the social media platform’s effort to curb cyberbullying and give their users an anti-harassment tool.

If ever this proposed latest update for Instagram will be put to reality, lots of users will surely benefit from the said comment banning and filtering.

As of now, there is no concrete infomation from Instagram so users will just have to wait for the release of the anti-harassment update.  For now, Instagram users will just have to make do and settle with blocking bashers and rude commenters. To read more about the Instagram update click here.

Child bullying linked to brain damage, suicide and obesity

Child bullying can lead to brain damage

Child bullying can lead to brain damage

Child bullying: Psychologist Evelyn Field said research has shown bullying can cause brain damage and major changes in genetic structure in young children. It can lead to suicide, obesity and heart attacks.

The Australian Medical Association has responded by saying its members were fully aware that bullying was not just a social problem but one that could require medical intervention.

Ms Field said she had been counselling for 50 years and the number of young victims — one in five — was still too high.

“We’re not taking bullying seriously, just like we didn’t take smoking seriously years ago,” she said.

Child bullying can lead to brain damage

“We have seen comprehensive studies into the experiences of identical twins, which shows significant changes in gene structure when one twin has been exposed to bullying. It’s extremely serious.”

Ms Field said that health professionals need to assess and include the impact of childhood bullying in the bible for mental health disorders, the DSM-5, to take into account the damaging medical effects it can cause.

“We as a nation, we as a global community, do not take school bullying seriously,” she said.

“Why? Primarily because child psychiatrists, child psychologists, paediatricians, children’s hospitals, adolescent units and so on rely on the DSM-5 definition of child bullying as ‘discord with peers’.”

She said there were dedicated Australian professionals tackling bullying, but not enough was being done in research, prevention, treatment and education, and more funding was needed.

Responding to Ms Field’s comments, AMA Victoria president Dr Lorraine Baker said the profession took bullying “very seriously” at every age with treatment available to those who needed it.

“Bullying is often seen by members of the community as a social issue without medical implications but we know that’s not the case,” she said. To read more click here.

School Bullying coach says ‘Stop playing victim’

School Bullying: Children told to stop playing the victim

School Bullying: Children told to stop playing the victim

School Bullying: Children who are bullied are whingers who need to “stop playing the victim”, according to a resilience coach working with a top Melbourne private school.

Brighton Grammar has been accused of victim blaming after it released controversial advice saying that some bullying victims were “passive doormats”, “whingers” and “loose with the truth” as reported by Henrietta Cooke.

It called on bullying victims to accept responsibility for their plight.

“In any bullying situation, you must own your part of the problem, no matter how small, no matter how unfair it may seem. No one is lily-white and blameless,” it said.

“The victim is not the problem,” Bully Zero Australia Foundation chief executive Oscar Yildiz​ said.

Mr Yildiz said it was important to focus on changing the behaviour of perpetrators, who are often unaware that they are bullies. However, victims can also be taught resilience skills.

“The person demonstrating that poor behaviour is the problem, not the victim,” he said. “This language is harsh and misleading.”

Parents took to the school’s “Understanding Boys” Facebook page and labelled the article offensive and “disgusting”. “Totally victim blaming – and totally letting the bullies off the hook,” one parent said. 

“So I should tell my son who has autism that he should own his being bullied? Did we do the wrong thing in teaching him not to fight back physically due to having a physical strength far out of proportion to his age,” another wrote. 

Many others – including a child psychologist – agreed with the article and said victims encouraged bullies when they advertised their victim status. 

Brighton Grammar responded to the deluge of Facebook comments, and said they were sorry for any distress they had caused.

“We believe that Melissa’s article contains an important message of empowerment, however we hear the comments of some followers calling for articles with more practical tips for those experiencing bullying, and we are looking to publish content on this issue that does just that,” it said. To read more click here.


Project Rockit: Tackling The Issue Of Cyber Bullying And Teens

The internet can be a scary place. Even scarier if you let your imagine conjure up all the things your kids could be getting up to (or getting exposed to) the minute they go online.

Unfortunately, these concerns aren’t unfounded. With more than one in three young Australians having experienced cyber threats online, it’s little wonder cyber bulling is considered a serious problem nation-wide, particularly among young people.

So how can we educate young Australians on how to navigate the darker side of the online world?

It’s a question ‘Australia’s youth-driven movement against bullying’, Project Rockit, faces every day, and has done since its inception in 2006.

Since then, the organisation claims to have visited over 150,000 young people at their schools discussing issues such as bullying (particularly online) as well as issues such as fitting in, being different, social labels, empathy, cultural background and gender and identity.

“The bulk of our work is running interactive workshops in schools. Basically, we send presenters into both primary and secondary schools, where they run workshops talking about bullying in a credible way young people actually engage with,” Caitlin Wood, Project Rockit’s head of programs, told The Huffington Post Australia.

“We find students actually want to talk about this stuff in school and talk about social labels and talk about it in a real way and, through that, connect with their peers as well. When it comes to cyber bullying and hate online — as well as the rise of social media, with new platforms being developed all the time — they are just surrounded.”

According to Wood, while there is an increasing awareness surrounding the issue of cyber bullying, it is also a problem that’s on the rise, particularly in regional areas.

“People are more aware of cyber bullying. People see it and they identify it,” Wood said. “But where it used to be one in six young Australians reported incidents of online bullying, it’s now one in three. To read more click here.

Could fining parents of bullies stop bullying?

bully-at-schoolInstead of enjoying the last days of their midyear break, thousands of kids are dreading the start of Term 3. These are the kids who face daily bullying at school, on public transport and online as reported by Carol Markie-Dadds.

They are threatened, teased, excluded and humiliated. They get sworn at, stolen from, pushed and shoved, and beaten.

And it’s not just face-to-face. A recent Triple P survey of more than 2,350 Queensland mums and dads revealed 43 per cent knew their kids had been bullied in the past six months. Many said that included cyber-bullying.

Their children had received a barrage of sexually explicit images and text. Their social media photos were doctored and circulated to cause maximum humiliation. Their sexuality had been questioned. Rumours went viral.

The scourge of bullying around the world has prompted authorities in the US state of Wisconsin to take a new approach. They have started fining the bully’s parents.

Shawano city council’s plan to curb bullying and harassment gives parents 90 days to intervene. If there’s no change, they are fined $366. A second offence costs the parents $700.

Shawano’s police chief Mark Kohl has told media they would target serious bullying that takes a clear toll on the victim such as physical, verbal or written intimidation, threats and emotional abuse.

“If it happens on school property, they have their own policies and procedures that we don’t enforce and we don’t get involved with,” Mr Kohl said. “This is basically [for] off the school grounds, outside of school hours.”

In Queensland, we are taking a completely different approach to bullying to the US by providing free Triple P parenting support to all parents and carers across the state.

The two-year program, funded by the state government, includes free seminars, one-on-one consultations and an online course.

It doesn’t tell parents what to do but gives them tips and strategies for raising happy, resilient kids who understand that violence and hurtful behaviour are ineffective and unacceptable.

This sort of population-based approach not only reduces children’s behavioural problems but also increases parents’ confidence. They are less stressed and provide better role modelling.

The aim is to spark change across the community, rather than target individuals. After all, parenting is hard enough without police intervention. To read more click here.

UFU ‘encouraged’ to co-operate with bullying inquiry

firefighters union victoriaThe Andrews government has “encouraged” the United Firefighters Union to drop its stance on directing members to not co-operate with a Human Rights Commission review into bullying and harassment at the state’s firefighting organisations as reported by

A spokeswoman for Emergency Services Minister James Merlino said: “The government encourages all staff, career and volunteer firefighters to participate” in the Victorian Equal ­Opportunity and Human Rights Commission review.

The UFU this week issued a directive attacking the VEOHRC investigation as politicised, saying any findings would fail to distinguish between the behaviour of unionised paid staff and volunteers. “The fact that it includes volunteers is a concern in itself, as essentially any findings of ­volunteers’ conduct will not be distinguished and therefore there cannot be any independent or ­accurate findings through this ­review,’’ UFU boss Peter Marshall said in a memo.

“The UFU does not accept this review is inde­pendent or a genuine attempt by the fire services to investigate these matters which were raised in a general manner by the fire services review report in March this year.

“We are also greatly concerned that there does not appear to be any controls or protections in place to ensure full and frank reporting and validation of the outcomes. For all these reasons, the UFU is strongly of the view that it is not in members’ interest to ­participate …

“Instead, the UFU engaged an independent tertiary institution to undertake a review to ensure all employees have an opportunity to participate in a genuine and independent review.”

Victorian Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton said she hoped the union would reconsider. “The ­review is critical in ensuring a safe and respectful workplace free of incidents of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment,’’ she said. “The review depends on co-operation of all people that work in the CFA (Country Fire Authority) and MFB (Metropolitan Fire Brigade). We want to provide people with a safe and confidential place to tell their stories, positive and negative.”

The government ­engaged the commission to investigate the CFA and MMB after its review by former Tasmanian Labor minister David O’Byrne found a poor culture, bullying and a lack of gender diversity. To read more click here.