At last Wednesday’s Massachusetts legislative committee hearing on the Healthy Workplace Bill (see link below), one state representative asked me about possible connections between workplace bullying and school bullying. It’s an important and recurring question.
I responded that although I am not aware of any definitive studies examining those links, there are definite ties and parallels. Here is a more articulate assessment than what I gave the legislator, based on my 10 years of work on these issues:
1. School bullies who do not learn that there are consequences for their actions may become the workplace bullies of tomorrow.
2. Kids who experience abuse and trauma may mistreat others when they are older, and workplace bullying may be one manifestation of that.
3. Sadly, all too often both schools and employers treat bullying dismissively, characterizing it as a personality conflict and sometimes even tacitly (or not so tacitly) blaming the target for being weak or oversensitive, especially if the aggressor is popular and/or powerful.
In short, bullying behaviors and organizational responses are modeled and validated early in life, and the patterns endure into our adulthoods.
Brief report on last week’s Mass. legislative hearing: http://newworkplace.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/healthy-workplace-bill-supporters-testify-before-massachusetts-legislative-committee/