If it worked in school, some adults think antagonizing others can make their jobs easier.
In the documentary Bully, filmmakers followed the lives of five students who were bullied on a daily basis.
Many people identified with the kids who were taunted and called names at school, and the film often evoked unpleasant memories for adults who recalled being bullied.
Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t end on the playground, Bully producer and writer Cynthia Lowen, says.
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Many adults are victims of bullying bosses or co-workers. And, just as in school, many peers stand by and watch it happen without intervening.
“There needs to be a lot more education about this issue in the workplace,” she says. “We can’t just put zero-tolerance policies in place — in school or the workplace — without having a comprehensive understanding about bullying.”
For example, many people may believe that only the bullying target is made to suffer, but a recent government study of bullying in Swedish workplaces shows that that bullying also harmed witnesses. Specifically, women who were witnesses to the bullying saw an increase of about 33% in clinical depression while male witnesses experienced about a 16% increase.
“Bystanders and the whole organization are involved in the process of bullying behavior, and, in turn, intervention programs should be focused on the whole workplace system,” researchers from Sweden’s Institute of Environmental Medicine say .
Lowen says most of us as children tried bullying. Those who felt badly about their behavior stopped.