Monday, 15 August 2011

Anti-Bullying Campaign steps up a gear.

Though I can't profess to like "Jedward", I do have to applaud them and other celebrities for stepping up and offering their time and fame free of charge for the current campaign by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC). Jedward, along with other including Louis Walsh (the nicer version of Simon Cowell) stepped up and had makeup applied to make them look as though they had been physically beaten for the new campaign on Anti-Bullying. And while the campaign has been the inception of the Irish charity, it's impact will surely be equally as beneficial across the UK.

That being said, I do think it kind of misses the mark on non-violent bullying, which can be in person or cyber-bullying. I have personally been bullied 3 times in my life and only one of those times was it physical. In fact, since I was an adult on the other two occasions, I didn't even realise that was being done to me WAS bullying. I had to be told that that is what it was when I sought counselling for the way I felt as a result of it.

I was bullied in the workplace (a professional workplace environment) by the three other girls who were in the same team as I. So what happened and what made it bullying? It started out small, the three of them discussing work strategies at coffee breaks whilst I was off in the smoking room and then dictating the plan of work to me when I returned; having whispered conversations between themselves to deliberately exclude me; not replying when I walked in to the office/lab each morning and said "Good Morning". Over a period of around 9 months it continued and progressively deteriorated to a point where not one of them would talk to me on a personal level at all right down to where they would not talk to me about even the most important of work issues. On more than one occasion, the leader of the bullying trio became very aggressive and abusive towards me - for not cleaning up after her. Though I went to management twice about the problem and even asked my Union representative for advice, nothing was done and it got to the point where I could no loger cope. I was off work for the next 5 months. During that time, management decided what they should do about the situation - move me to another group. Nothing happened to the three bullies and in essence, since payment and promotion depend upon performance, I was the one that was penalised - firstly because of my absence and secondly because I had to start builing up my professional reputation and standing in the new team of people whom didn't know me, what I had done previously, or what I was capable of. When I did return to work, I was placed in the office/lab right next door to the bullies, with a connecting door between the two. I had to go and clear my own desk in my old office space and move my own PC. The day I did that, I stayed in work until 7pm so that I could go into my old office area AFTER they had left for the night. Later in time at a work's social function, one of the bullies had the nerve to come up to me abd berate me for doing that, telling me how awkward I made it for THEM by coming back to work. I tried to put it all behind me but passing those three girls in the corridor every day or in the canteen was hard. After a while I managed to be able to smile to them when I passed them but until the day I left, I got nothing but an evil look from the ringleader. The bullying was a big contributing factor in why I lost my job. I never fully got over the incident or how the girls had just gotten away with it. After I was sacked on health grounds as being incapable of doing my job (yeah 12 hour days without overtime to help the team makes me incapable) I tried to take the company to an employment tribunal. Funnily enough, not one person that had witnessed the bullying could remember anything about it, others had moved on to work at other companies and basically it left me with no corroboration. The fact that I had said I was happy in my new team counted against me. The counsellor whom I had seen at the time had destroyed her notes on the case. It did come out in the communications between myself and the company however, that the manager to whom I spoke to twice about the bullying during the time that it was happening didn't take it seriously and decided not to do anything about it! The same manager had blocked my getting a promotion some time after the bullying had taken place, citing my sickness absence as the reason.

To know that management as much as condoned the bullying, and knowing that I was the one penalised for it still  makes still feel sick to this day whenever I pass the building I used to work in. I don't go to the grocery store at lunchtimes or immediately after working hours because I know that some of my former colleagues may be there at those times.

Bullying is not just a physical thing and it's not just kids that do it. Bullying ruins lives. Let's stamp it out.

Anti-Bullying Alliance UK
Beat Bullying UK
No Bully USA
National Bullying Prevention Center USA
Bullying. No Way! AU

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