Archive for the ‘Bullying’ Category

A new anti-bullying video

December 6, 2008

 

Oops!   Lost it – have to find it again!

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Bullying and teenage suicide

October 20, 2008

This film is from Canada, but the circumstances and tragic results could apply anywhere in the world.

If you ever needed a ‘prod’ to intervene or support a young person being bullied then I think that just looking at the children in this film will be enough.    Be warned that you may well experience emotional upset especially if you have suffered similar experiences and maybe considered similar outcomes.

Charities and their Trustees

October 17, 2008

It may immediately occur to you that this is an unusual topic for posting on a ‘blog’ to do mainly with mental health.   However, with rising numbers of employees in both charitable and non charitable organisations suffering with mental health issues, many of which relate to stress and bullying in the workplace, then it does seem to be appropriate.

On 5/9/08 this blog provided information about the YouGov poll for the TUC into Bullying in the Workplace, and the link to the full report.  Then on 8/9/08 information was provided on ‘What is happening in the Voluntary Sector’ – and the link to the report provided by Charity Pulse/Birdsong.  Both these posts are stored under the heading Bullying elsewhere on this blog.

Charity Trustees have many responsibilities, details of which are provided by the Charity Commission on their website.   In carrying out these responsibilities, and particularly those of duty of care to the organisation and its’ employees, there is a logical need for the trustees to make themselves aware of what is taking place in the charity in their name.   They have a collective responsibility for knowing what is going on, and for the decisions taken.   It is a naive Trustee who relies entirely on third party information when reaching decisions.   And what of integrity?   Having been a Trustee and for some time the administrator of two nationally registered charities over some 25 years I have no doubt that it is essential that all Trustees take the time to become aware of issues affecting their employees (yes, their employees) as well as the organisation.   This can only be done by physically visiting the work sites of the organisation and becoming familiar with the variety of services being offered by the employees.   Without such interest and personally  collected knowledge how can decisions which affect the employees and the development or otherwise of the charity be reached with confidence and impartiality?   

Sadly, it is when trustees are not able to find the time to talk with employees and to observe the breadth of their duties that mistakes occur and morale drops.   Stress rises, and so does the incidence of bullying and the smoke screening of unacceptable practices.   In such situations mental health issues will occur and lasting personal damage become established.  Recently there was discussion about an employee of a charity who was suspended for several months while being investigated and then suddenly dismissed.  It is not being suggested that this was in any way illegal – the evidence for the detail of the investigation is not available – but what could be the justification for treating a long term employee in this insensitiive and very stressfull manner?   Did the trustees of the organisation think that was an appropriate and humane way to treat one of their employees and did they approve of the process throughout its duration?  Or were they guided by third party information?   Did they exercise their duty of care to the employee as well as the organisation?   It is hard to see how that could have been the case.   In another recent situation a charity used its age related policy to end the employment of a medium term employee.  That was a decision for the Trustees, and altho that decision was within their power, what also happened was that the most recent appeal of the employee against this decision has not been responded to for approximately three weeks.   This has increased stress for the employee and colleagues, and confusion, depression and loss of motivation have resulted.  And where is the Trustee’s duty of care in this case? 

It is against this sort of background that the reports of YouGov and Charity Pulse have to be considered.  The work of Trustees is demanding, unpaid and responsible and every charitable organisation owes it’s trustees gratitude.  However, if Trustees cannot find the time to carry out their responsibilities with full knowledge of the issues, then it is better that they retire from the role.

Bullying at work – what is happening in the Voluntary Sector?

September 8, 2008

 Now, in terms of the ongoing and active discussion regarding bullying at work, and not only of workers but also of managers, the Report produced by Birdsong Charity Consulting looking at bullying in the Voluntary Sector, makes interesting reading.   Managers get bullied too.    The following is an extract from the Bird-Song website and to read the whole report and other related reports, please click this link:

 

http://www.bird-song.co.uk/charitypulse_files/Charity%20Pulse%202008%20report-%20Size%20Matters.pdf

 

 

 

Charity Pulse is an annual voluntary sector-wide staff satisfaction survey conducted by Birdsong Charity Consulting and Third Sector magazine. This year’s survey ran from 5 March to 25 April 2008.

 

Charity Pulse is a new approach to measuring staff satisfaction in the sector, because it enables individuals working for any charity to take part. The aim of the research is to build up a picture of working life in charities and help to raise the standard of people management in the sector.

Bullying in the workplace – YouGov poll result for the TUC.

September 5, 2008

According to a YouGov poll, published on Friday 5th September, and carried out on behalf of the Trades Union Congress, 1 in 7 employees, or 3.5 million people, say that they have been bullied in their present job, and I in 5 say that bullying is an issue where they work.   Although this Blog often receives interest from people who are being bullied at work, the number of people claiming to have this damaging experience is greater that was expected.

 

The General Secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, commented that the percentage of people being bullied at work is ‘completely unacceptable’.  Mr Barber also said that it is particularly worrying that the greatest number of people complaining are employed in the public sector.  And the urgent action that Mr Barber wants to see implemented now?   ‘ Every organisation needs to have an anti-bullying policy, and every manager should ensure that there is zero-tolerance of bullying either by line managers or workmates.’      Well said, but will it become reality?

So, what are the figures for different groups of employers?    The research shows that while about 8% of workers in the voluntary sector complain, it is 12% for the private sector, and a whopping 19% in the public sector.   Gender is also a factor, with 16% of men complaining as opposed to 12% of women.  The relationship with age is that 19% of 45 – 54 year olds and 17% of 35 – 44 year olds are the most likely to be bullied.    Perhaps surprisingly only 8% of the 25 – 34 age group complained.  Could it be that the source of bullying lies more heavily with the younger group in relation to older colleagues?     The research also claims that the people most likely to be bullied are in professional and similar jobs.   It also points out that there is a large professional grouping in jobs such as teaching and health services which may influence the figures obtained.   So what about salary influences?  Well, it may surprise you to know that 17% of those earning between £20 – £60k report bullying or, again, is this the largest responding group?

Whayever, bullying in the workplace, at school, at home and in the community is totally unacceptable and that message needs to be endlessly repeated for those with cloth ears.

Elsewhere on this Blog, under Links, I have previously provided a link to the Andrea Adams Trust – which campaigns ceaselessly against the bullying issue and also offers help and support to those who are suffering.   This year the Ban Bullying at Work Day will be held on 7 November.   Also, if you use the link to the TUC website you will find resources and encouragement to take part in activities of 7th November, and to challenge the bullies who may be making your lives a misery.

Here is the link:  http://www.tuc.org.uk/

Fourth All Wales Conference – Eating Disorders.

September 3, 2008

For parents and carers:  Friday 24th October 2008

 

 

Conference Venue: – Marriot St Pierre Golf & Country Club, Chepstow, Gwent,

Registration – 9.15 am  Conference end – 4.30 pm

 

Launching

 

Beat Cymru

 

 

 

Our very own branch of Beat working with us to beat

 

eating disorder in Wales

 

Are you a parent or carer of someone with an eating disorder like Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating? Your role is vital in supporting your loved ones and promoting and maintaining their recovery.

 

This year’s conference has been designed in response to last year’s delegates’ requests. 

 

Conference will be opened by Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins

We will have a presentation from an eating disorder survivor.

An introduction to ‘Beat Cymru’

Workshops to identify your ideas for Beat Cymru.

Small discussion groups to share your challenges, successes and expertise.

 

There will be no cost to you as funding is provided by the Welsh Assembly Government Mental health Carers’ Grant for Monmouthshire.

 

Conference is hosted by Gwent Eating Disorders Sufferer Carer Support group in partnership with the Monmouthshire Primary Mental Health Team, Monmouthshire Social Services and Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust. 

 

For further information and to book your place please contact:

 

Katie White Conference Administration on 01633 436975 or email: katie.white@gwent.wales.nhs.uk

or

Joy Jones, Specialist Eating Disorders Lead, Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust on 01633 436831 or email:  joy.jones@gwent.wales.nhs.uk

 

Stop Bullying Resources – For Children & Adults.

May 25, 2008

http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/index.asp?area=main

Follow this link if you would like to access this resource about bullying – provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services.   A site for young people to explore and also for adults worried about children who are being bullied, or who are bullies.

Bullying – two viewpoints.

May 13, 2008

A few weeks ago I was wasting some time watching a TV programme about the work of the RSPCA.   Well, it wasn’t so much ‘wasting’ as idly watching, and as the minutes passed I became increasingly surprised.   The programme focussed on the young male swan that was being bullied by another male swan using the same ‘patch’ of water.    It did not seem to be related to mating, but simply to one swan wanting to dominate another by preventing it feeding, constantly harassing, and even going to the lengths of holding its head underwater by gripping its’ neck.   The RSPCA was called in, and after observing the situation for a while the decision was made to use a boat to rescue the young swan before it was killed.  In fact, it was severely under weight, and its wing feathers so damaged it could not fly away, effectively imprisoning it with it’s tormenter.   By now you probably know where I am going.   Did the Inspectors follow the example of many people who become aware of bullying – by leaving the young swan to get on with it and just ignore it, or by asking the young swan what it had done to upset the bully, or telling it to go ‘talk’ to another young swan who was equally terrified of the aggressive swan, or, or….   No.  They took the decision that the situation was serious, needed immediate action to protect the young swan physically and mentally, and removed it from the lake.   It was then driven several miles to a safe sanctuary where it was fed and made comfortable in a secure pen but able to communicate with and see other animals, and then allowed to recover and rest for several days.  The change was remarkable to watch – after 24 hours of what can only be described as depression the young swan started to feed constantly, and within three days was acting with hostility to its human protectors.   By the end of the week it was introduced to a nearby river and quickly started to fend for itself.  

 

Maybe the RSPCA should be contracted to provide training for those responsible for designing and operating anti-bully programmes and interventions in schools?   They had no doubt about the lifelong damage that would be caused the swan if the bullying were allowed to continue.   Why do those responsible for children have such a problem reaching a similar decision?   

 

I have permission from Winawer to publish the following post, written by him, on our blog.   If you would like to see the post in Winawer’s blog Mild Opinions then please click the link below.  Thank you Winawer for this permission.  Thank you too Clay for your comment and the selection of text.  A link to Clay’s blog ‘Beyond School’ is also below.

 

http://mildopinions.wordpress.com/

 

http://beyond-school.org/

 

  My bullying success story.

Through the usual maze of the Internet, I wound up at a post on the Beyond School blog in which Clay Burell proposes a new internet meme. Not many people read this blog, so I’m sure I’m a memetic dead end as it were, but the idea was relevant enough for me that I thought I might respond anyway. In response to a reader who heard Clay’s podcast about bullying survival stories and wrote to say that Clay’s survival story helped him deal with the bullying he’s facing, Clay wrote:

“I’ve already thanked Jack, but I want to thank him again. He confirms that for him, at least, “Stop Bullying” messages may be nice and all, but they don’t do much to comfort those trying to cope with being bullied.”

                                                                 http://beyond-school.org/

 

I’m not saying anti-anything messages have no positive value. I’m just saying they often fail to help the victims of the thing being opposed. Telling bullies not to bully may be worth the effort, though it’s apparently predicated on the dubious belief that it’s effective to appeal to the compassionate side of bullies, who in my experience have almost always been a pretty heartless bunch. Bullies enjoy psycho-social benefits from bullying – profits, in a sense – in the same way arms dealers do from selling weapons. Appeals to delicate instincts require delicate audiences, and delicacy is a thing usually absent from these hardened types.

But as Jack testifies, just hearing Bullied Success Stories – that survival is worth it and life gets better? That’s a speech-act worth performing.

So the Meme: Share Your “Bullied Then, Successful Now” Stories

In light of that, I thought that I might share my own experiences with bullying.

It began in grade 7 for me. I was an overweight, shy, nerdy kid with a sense of fashion that might charitably have been called “out of step”, so you can imagine the world of hurt that I was in for. It began right then and there, first day of school, in a new class with new people: I was a target. It ranged from social isolation to active attacks, but it always hurt. I was called names, I was pushed around, I was made to feel incredibly stupid. It lasted for almost the entirety of my time at that school, from the beginning of Grade 7 until the middle of Grade 9.

Worse, it had a face, and an embarassing one at that. It was a tiny, scrawny kid whom I’ll just call D. for now. I’m convinced, looking back now with the long lens of hindsight, that he chose me as a target simply because he didn’t want to be one himself, but at the time it didn’t matter. He did everything he could to rally the class against me (and for some reason, he ended up in my class all three years). At one point, I walked into our Language Arts class before our teacher got there, and he had the entire class throw pencils, chalks, even books at me. The teacher found me cowering and crying outside the room and her subsequent punishment of D. and the other ringleaders did little to curry favour with the class for me.

It wasn’t just D., of course. I was picked on by just about every “cool” kid in the grade, and ignored by the rest. In fact, I was occasionally the target of a beast of a kid who later went on to be a local rapist who’s still in jail, as far as I know. But D.’s torment was the worst, and at the time it drove me even to thoughts of suicide. I doubt I would ever have gone through with it, but the fact that I was even thinking of it is enough.

It all came to a head about halfway through Grade 9. For reasons that to this day still escape me, D. had been agitating for a fight between us for some time; the notion was ludicrous to me, because he was certainly as unskilled at fighting as I was, and my 2:1 weight advantage was sure to be a crippling handicap for him. Yet he pushed, and pushed, and finally (to my shame), I gave in. One afternoon, we moved off school property and at the urging of a crowd of people we started fighting. It was a fairly uninspiring affair to watch, I’m sure. We both flailed about for a bit, and then I landed a couple of blows. His face was bleeding a little – from a split lip, I think – and I came off unscathed. Considering it a victory, I walked away.

Things started to get a little better after that. My “victory” had bought me enough respect that the active persecution lapsed into a cone of silence around me, especially after D. demanded a rematch about a week later, which he summarily lost again. I spent most of high school isolated as well, since I was completely socially inept by now (and having to change schools three quarters of the way through grade 10 didn’t help either), but I was generally left alone to get on with my life.

Gradually, my life just started improving. In the last year of high school, I met a new group of friends which included my future wife. Heading to university was a massive change for me which opened new horizons and led me to finally start taking control of my life and make my own decisions. I moved from computer science to take photography (which I was unfortunately rubbish at!), after which I took some time off to just try things out and see what life would bring for me. Discovering that “real” life wasn’t for me, I returned to school and banged through my B.A. and M.Sc in short order (while taking a year to explore Europe as well). I recently got married and began my Ph.D, and I’m actually really happy. As I think of it now, I’ve been generally happy for years now.

This isn’t so much a “survival” story in a classic sense, with a catastrophic event and a heroic stand against all odds. My bullying story is more about the promise of the future: I provide anecdotal evidence that things will probably just get better. The fight I had with D. was a watershed, but it really just provides a focus for my memory and a hook for the story; I’m convinced that even if it had never happened, things would have proceeded largely the same (except, perhaps, for the second half of Grade 9).

One thing I need to make clear is that I am ashamed of how I handled things with D. I consider it a failure on my part, that I gave in to violence to solve my problems instead of finding another way to stand up for myself. My current self understands why my past self did it, but current self is still disappointed that it happened that way. Having said that, though, the lesson to be taken from that episode is that picking the right moment to stand up to your tormenter can have important effects. I just hope that anyone reading this who is in the same situation will find a better way to do it than I did.

And that’s it, really. It feels good to talk about this now and if it gives anyone else a moment’s hope, I’ll consider the time I spent writing it up to be well worth it. I welcome any comments you might have, and I urge you to head over to Clay’s blog to share your own stories or keep spreading his meme.

So there it is – for those of you recalling and maybe frequently reliving bully experiences, links to two more blogs which you may well find helpful.  I am always grateful when other bloggers allow me to put their writings and links on our blog as it opens up other opinions and positives to what is for many young and older people a damaging and negative experience.  For many of the individuals that I have known over the years serious bully experiences which were not dealt with at the time by those who have that duty, whether parents or professional workers, have led onto problems and instability in their mental health.  And as many who are affected by mental unwellness know, this so often leads into the experiences of stigma and discrimination – adding yet another layer of bully related problems to their life experience.  What is refreshing about the blogs of Winawer and Clay is that they lead forward to a more positive theme and experience – and that has to be mentally healthy. 

    

International Day to end Violence Against Women

November 26, 2007

End Violence Against Women

Sunday 25th November was the start of the International 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women.  If you, or a friend have suffered such violence, or if you are wanting to get involved to work to bring an end to this criminal behaviour then you may like to have a look at the linked information below.

Statistics for violence against women

Violence against women is a major problem in the UK. In fact, almost half of all women in the UK experience domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking (Walby & Allen, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey, 2004).

For some forms of violence against women such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation, rape and sexual violence, trafficking and forced prostitution we have limited statistics. This is due to a number of factors including: the hidden nature of the abuse; fear and stigma preventing reporting and lack of systematic data collection by the UK Government. The figures that are available are likely to be an underestimate.

Millions of women and girls every year are being beaten, raped, mutilated, abducted, forced to marry, and murdered. It’s time for the violence to stop.

The links on the left of this page will take you to a list of facts and statistics that illustrate just how prevalent violence against women is here in the UK.

Key research:

Bullying and Bullying in the workplace

July 22, 2007

It’s obvious from the continuing interest in bullying posts and links that people are still needing support and help.   The following is a link sent to me by someone experiencing bullying in their place of work, and you may find it helpful.

   http://www.bullying.com.au:80/workplace-bullying/

Let me know what you think of the site.