Bullying is one of the most prevalent issues trying to be addressed and dealt with in our society every day. It is a major problem that has been evident for centuries. However, a common misconception is that bullying is only found in the school yards or among teenagers. In reality, some of the worst bullying actually occurs in the older generation. When childhood bullies have grown up and transitioned into what can be called the adult bully, it can be equally as hard, or even harder for their victims to deal with.
Adult bullies are found everywhere, but the most prevalent types who are heard about are the workplace bullies and bullying on the college campus. The victims of these older bullies still feel the same emotional and sometimes physical effects of the abuse. In researching the topic of adult bullying, I found it is just as harmful and widespread as bullying among teens and children. This essay will shed some light on exactly what bullying is, why people continue to bully, the different types of adult bullies and where they are most commonly found, as well as ways to handle the adult bully.
Bullying can be defined in many different ways. One of the most effective descriptions I read was “ Bullying is the aggressive behaviour arising from the deliberate intent to cause physical or psychological stress to others. ” (Randall 71-83) This definition covers the main fact that bullying can be physical or psychological, but in both cases the bully is aiming to wound the victim in some way. There are many reasons why people may choose to bully others. Many bullies feel some sort of superiority or strength from knocking others down.
Some bully to try to fit in or feel control. In all cases however, the aggression usually began as a child and carried over into adulthood. Children who developed aggressive behaviour when they were younger from such things as parenting style, neglect, or abuse, often times grow up to be damaged adults. “For many, the only self-esteem they can accrue, comes from the aggressive manipulation of others. ” (Randall 71-83) In several cases, it is also the childhood victim who becomes the adult bully.
Adults who were bullied as children often take the pain with them into adulthood and it comes out as aggression towards others. “These bullies are often aware of their behaviour, but unable to stop it. ” (Randall 71-83) Adult bullying occurs every day all around us. The office cubicle replaces the classroom, the dorm room replaces the playground, and the neighbourhood replaces the school yard. However, the most talked about location for adult bullying in recent news has been on the college campus.
With the suicide of a young student at Rutgers, as a direct result of bullying, fresh in everyone’s minds, bullying at universities is a hot topic being discussed. Although it is not as easily noticed, bullying does not disappear after high school as some may think. “Harassment or bullying on a college campus is often not as easily detectible as it is in an elementary or secondary school, in large part because students live more independently. In some cases, the victim may be unwilling to come forward for fear of being perceived as less than adult or exacerbating an already difficult situation. (Jones) Since university bullying is not as easily seen, it is not given as much attention as bullying in the younger generations. However, bullying does not cease to exist once a student enters college. In fact, 27. 5 % of college students reported seeing one college student bullied by another at least once or twice, and 18. 7 % report having bullied another college student at least once. (McDonald) There are many different types of bullying seen on the college campus. Some of these forms of bullying include hazing as well as sexual bullying and harassment.
These forms of college bullying are now being seen as more predominant issues in our society after multiple school shootings and suicides which have occurred in recent years as a result of them. There is yet another form of bullying on college campuses that still tends to get overlooked at times. That is when the teacher or professor becomes the bully. In Bill Page’s article The Teacher as a Bully, he wisely notes that often times, “the biggest bullies in school are teachers. While their position, reasons, and intentions are very different from the schoolyard bullies, their impact is far worse. (Page) Teachers often abuse their power and abuse the student emotionally and psychologically. “Student failure, not just failing a test, but inability to accomplish the required class work and daily assignments, frequently results in repeated failure and continuing condescension, sarcasm, and stigmatizing and embarrassing consequences. ” (Page). Alan McEvoy, Ph. D, Wittenburg University, defined bullying by teachers as “a pattern of conduct, rooted in a power differential, that threatens, harms, humiliates, induces fear, or causes students substantial emotional distress. (McEvoy)
This type of abuse occurs often on the college campus but for similar reasons mentioned above, is often not brought to anyone’s attention. There is also the added factor that the teacher will much more be given the benefit of the doubt, due to their higher authority and power. In Alan McEvoy’s research he asked students what would happen if they were to try to do something about the emotionally abusive teachers. Most students came back with such replies as “Seniority would always protect them in a situation with a student … asically it was the teacher’s word against the student’s word. ”(McEvoy) These are one of the most difficult types of adult bullies for victims to deal with due to the fact that the bully is of higher position and influence in the specific environment. This abuse of power in adult bullies is also seen in the workplace among bosses and coworkers. Bullying in the workplace has become one of the most common environments for adult bullies. “Workplace bullying constitutes unwanted offensive, humiliating, undermining behaviour towards an individual or groups of employees.
Such persistently malicious attacks on personal or professional performance are typically unpredictable, irrational, and often unfair. ” (Ryner, Hoel,Cooper 1-5) In the workplace you will find many different types of adult bullies. Not surprisingly, almost 70% of the bullying occurs from the top of the power ladder down. (Schantz). This can be referred to as the power bully where, similar to the case with the teacher bully, these people tend to abuse their power and enjoys instilling fear in those under them. The victim often complies because they are intimidated or fearful or losing their job. (“What Kinds of Bullies are There in the Workplace”). Bullying also occurs among coworkers of equal rank. In a study done by the National Institure for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), it was found that “many incidents of bullying in the workplace appear to be perpetuated by employees against one another. ” (Blosser). This can happen all the time in many varieties such as cyber bullying, exclusion, and verbal abuse. All these types of bullying can have lasting effects on the victims. Many will choose to quit and find another job elsewhere if it gets extremely bad.
Others who don’t have the opportunity to run away from the bullying will have to learn to deal with the effects of being a victim. Victims of bullying, even in adulthood, experience very real emotional and psychological effects. “There is an increasing body of research and clinical narrative evidence which indicates the serious effects of bullying on individuals. A sample of 368 Austrian hospital employees proved that victims showed significantly greater evidence of reduced well-being than non- victims. Their symptoms included anxiety, irritation, depression, and physcosomatic complaints. (Randall) These are only some of the symptoms experienced by bully victims. As with any long-term stress, bullying can also lead to physical health problems. “The recent TUC study (1998) reports on headaches, anxiety, raised blood pressure, nausea, sleeps disorder, and suicidal ideation. Some researchers ( e. g. Leymann and Gustafsson 1996;Randall,1997) comment on symptoms that fit with the diagnostic criteria of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, such as chest pains, avoidance reactions, and cognitive dysfunction. (Randall ) Many victims also experience loss of strength, chronic tiredness, aches and pains and other difficulties. (Randall) Predominantly in the college campus environment, symptoms such as depression have resulted in violent action towards the victim themselves or towards others, for example school shootings and suicides. In the workplace, the victim usually experiences at least some of the symptoms mentioned above, which can result in a drop in their work performance. “Employees who are psychologically abused in the workplace have little time or mental energy for productivity.
Abuse makes them disillusioned, exhausted, and burnt-out, unable to perform their jobs effectively or efficiently. ” (Amble). These effects can have a significant impact on the victim’ s life, therefore it is essential that these victims learn some ways to handle and cope with the everyday adult bully. Dealing with an adult bully in most cases must be handled differently than dealing with a young child or teen bully. Of course one can first attempt to talk with the person who is doing the bullying and resolve the issue.
Firmly tell the person his or her behaviour is not acceptable and ask them to stop. In the workplace environment, the victim can ask a supervisor or union member to be with them when they approach the person. It would also be helpful to keep a journal or diary of daily events, as well as the witnesses and outcome of the situation. (Amble) “Make sure to also note discrepancies in what the bully says and does, or between what they say to you and what they say to others. ” (Field 56-199) This is also an important tip, since many bullies can transform in front of the right people. Bullies have a Jekyll and Hyde persona which enables them to appear sincere and charming one minute whilst acting in an aggressive and threatening manner the next. The criteria for selection of these behaviours is usually dependent on who is present. ” (Field 56-199) If it is possible, it is also always good to take the complaint higher. (“How to Handle Bullying at Workplace”) The most important tip that can be provided is to talk to someone about it and seek advice on how to handle one’s own unique situation.
All cruelty springs from weakness” (Seneca, 4BC-AD65) This is an important quotation to remember when dealing with bullies. A majority of the time, the bully themselves is very insecure and does not like to be confronted. “Many times bullying for them is a way to externalize their own feelings of insecurity, inferiority and rage by putting those feelings on someone else and then attacking them” (Weisberg-Ross). Therefore as a victim, one must always remember that they are not being bullied because of their own imperfections, but rather because of problems the bully is trying to cope with themselves.
Although these strategies mentioned will never rid the world of bullies, it will at least help one cope with them while they are around. The unfortunate reality of our world today is that bullies never go away no matter how old you get. The bully on the playground does eventually grow up and could possibly become your future roommate, teacher, co-worker, boss or neighbour. Bullies have different reasons for tormenting their victims but the victims usually experience the same lasting effects. Although it may seem hard to deal with, there are always resources available to help and people to talk to about bullying even as an adult.