Half the population are bullied ... most only recognise it when they read this
News about bullying in 2002
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Updated 31 August 2002
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BBC News Online wins BAFTA best news website award for third year running
Bullying news reorganised
As from August 2002 news of bullying is included in my monthly enews. To receive a free copy by email each month fill in this online form. For previous monthly enews (from January 2001 onwards) click here.
Consignia settles in bullying
16 July 2002: Consignia (aka Royal Mail) has accepted that postal worker Jermaine Lee committed suicide because of bullying and harassment and have settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. [More]
Ethics pay off
12 July 2002: the National Employee Relationship report by research organisation Walker Information reveals that ethical standards and the personal integrity of senior staff are closely related to employee loyalty. Other loyalty factors included fair pay and evaluations, employee care, daily satisfaction and trust in employees. Less than 25% of employees surveyed felt truly loyal whilst many felt trapped.
Bullying at the BBC
30 June 2002: an article by ex-BBC News South East senior journalist Laurie Mayer in the Mail on Sunday tells of a hauntingly familiar experience. [More | A previous similar case]
Consignia reveals £1.1 billion
13 June 2002: following on the heels of the Amicus survey which reveals high levels of bullying and harassment and the ineffectiveness of Consignia's anti-bullying policy comes yet more evidence of how bullying goes hand in hand with financial disaster; Consignia announce a £1.1 billion loss. [More]
Dignity at Work Bill progress
29 May 2002: a meeting organised by Amicus at the House of Lords to discuss the Dignity at Work Bill attracted over a hundred people, most with appalling experiences to relate. Full report on the meeting on the Amicus web site.
Canada at forefront of tackling bullying
23 May 2002: Canada has launched a multi-year, multi-media anti-bullying public education campaign.
Amicus Campaign Against Bullying
At Work moves forward
16 May 2002: the UK Dignity at Work Bill is currently going through the House of Lords. The Bill, when it becomes law, will close the loophole whereby bullies are able to evade accountability by focusing their prejudices on traits other than race, gender and disability. A debate on the Report Stage of the Bill has been arranged for Wednesday 29 May 2002. Everyone is invited to give testimony at a meeting arranged by Baroness Gibson, the Billís sponsor, and hear others explain what the Amicus Campaign Against Bullying At Work is about. Valerie Davey MP is ready to take up the Bill when it enters the Commons and several MPs have expressed interest in the campaign. [More]
Survey confirms high level of
bullying in NHS
12 May 2002: a survey by psychologist Noreen Tehrani of healthcare and personnel management in the NHS has again revealed high levels of bullying with at least 10% of sufferers exhibiting symptoms of PTSD. 80% of those bullied had not reported bullying because 'the bully is my boss'.
Oxfordshire LEA goes after
10 May 2002: Oxfordshire Local Education Authority, already under scrutiny for its poor record for failing to deal with both school bullying and bullying of teachers, is now taking parents to court for failing to send their children to school. In the UK at least one percent of children have been withdrawn from school to be taught at home, with LEA's failure to provide safe studying conditions, bullying, budget cuts and lack of opportunity most frequently cited. The figure is expected to rise to 3% by 2010. It would be interesting to know how much money Oxfordshire County Council spends on legal action each year - all of which comes out of council tax. Oxfordshire County Council has repeatedly come under fire for failing to deal with bullying of teachers and bullying of children. The Council were also heavily criticised for "losing" the records of a paedophile teacher who sexually abused children for more than a decade before he was imprisoned recently.
highlights rampant bullying within Consignia
9 May 2002: a survey by Amicus (formerly the MSF union) of Consignia (formerly Royal Mail) reveals that Consignia's anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies are largely ineffective. A survey of managers showed that most had experienced problems in the last year ranging from "uninvited sexual teasing" to bullying and verbal abuse. Amicus estimated the impact of unwelcome behaviour on productivity at over £15 million. Amicus National Secretary Peter Skyte called on Consignia to stop navel gazing with internal reviews and instead commit to action. In its defence, Consignia said it did not tolerate bullying: "It is totally unacceptable and we take action when cases are brought to our attention, including dismissing those responsible." Alas this is not the story told repeatedly via my Advice Line, with complaints being ignored or whitewashed. Frequently the person reporting the bullying is victimised and scapegoated out of the organisation. Royal Mail's own survey of 7,200 managers revealed that 17% reported being bullied or harassed within the last 12 months.
Universities face growing staff
9 May 2002: recruitment in UK schools and hospitals has been problematic for some time, now a survey reveals that 20% of universities have recruitment and retention problems most of the time, while 8% say they have daily problems retaining lecturers and professors. Teachers, lecturers and nurses are the largest groups of callers to my Advice Line. I wonder if there's a connection? [More]
Scottish teachers and stress
9 May 2002: the costs of stress are beginning to be recognised although the causes often receive less attention.
UK must clock off on time
29 April 2002: following a complaint by Amicus, the European Commission is to force the UK Government to comply with working time regulations. The British worker works on average 43.6 hours a week compared with the European average of 40.3 hours. [More]
10% of casualty doctors suicidal
24 April 2002: an article Occupational stress in consultants in accident and emergency medicine: a national survey of levels of stress at work in the Emergency Medicine Journal reveals that 10% of senior casualty doctors feel suicidal because of the workload and stress of the job. Around half report severe stress and 20% suffer depression.
Bullying still rife in the NHS
13 April 2002: Lyn Quine, a reader in health psychology at the University of Kent at Canterbury has published the results of her latest survey of bullying of junior doctors. The figures revealed 37% of junior doctors reported being bullied in the previous year with Black and Asian doctors more likely to be bullied than other doctors. See full report in the BMJ with the opportunity to comment. Lyn's 1998 study of bullied nurses is at BMJ.com. Chancellor Gordon Brown recently promised billions of pounds of extra money for the NHS; perhaps dealing with bullying would save more money than Gordon is giving?
BBC broadcaster makes the news
11 April 2002: Helen Reed, a former presenter/reporter on BBC Radio Bristol's Morning West programme, claimed she had been undermined and devalued by the station's managing editor Jenny Lacey who, among other things, took exception to her red hair. [Full story] [Helen Reed's web site] [Are you a bullied media employee?]
Father murdered defending son
13 March 2002: a father who went to meet his son at the railway station in Evreux, northern France, was attacked and beaten to death by the same gang that had bullied and threatened his son the previous day. Bricks, bottles and planks of wood were used in the attack. The father's brother-in-law, who survived the attack, told police that "they had bottles, bricks and planks of wood. No discussion was possible, it happened so fast."
Scotland Yard detective in
bullying allegations moved
11 March 2002: a senior detective in the Damilola Taylor murder inquiry and head of south London murder squads Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Jarratt has been transferred to another post after an inquiry into allegations of bullying of junior officers. He was said to have had "an abrasive management style". [More]
Legal system protects the guilty
6 March 2002: in an outspoken address at his former university, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens has accused judges, court administrators and defence lawyers of exploiting legal loopholes and shopping around for forensic experts to support their cases whilst intimidating witnesses and ignoring the rights of terrified victims. He described the legal system as like a football match in which each side played by different rules. [BBC News Online]
Service personnel sue MoD for
4 March 2002: 260 former service personnel have started court action for the PTSD they say they have suffered as a result of conflict and the MoD's failure to take preventative measures or provide support an counselling afterwards. More Falklands veterans have now committed suicide than were killed in the conflict. A further 1600 personnel are considering legal action. The MoD's record on PTSD has a long history: pardons have still not be granted to 306 soldiers (mostly suffering PTSD) who were executed on the orders of General Haig in World War I. [More]
The fairer sex
3 March 2002: Girls just wanna be mean is a comprehensive article examining girl-on-girl bullying in the New York Times (you have to register but it's free). This led to a complementary feature Mean Girls in the UK broadsheet The Observer.
Less of Moore?
28 February 2002: according to Jonathan Baume, general secretary of the Association of First Division Civil Servants (FDA), transport secretary Stephen Byers' former special adviser Jo Moore had an approach which amounted to "an almost textbook case of bullying". It was Jo Moore who sent an email on 11 September 2001 suggesting it would be "a good day to bury bad news." Ms Moore and former Department of Transport Director of Communications Martin Sixsmith both lost their jobs in what has become known as the Spingate affair. [More]
Monthly news by email
27 February 2002: We're now sending out by email a monthly digest of news on bullying and related issues. To receive your free copy fill in this online form
Tim Field interviewed by Sam
Vaknin for UPI
25 February 2002: the economic damage of bullying is discussed in an interview with Tim Field by Sam Vaknin for UPI.
Stress verdicts overturned
5 February 2002: in a decision which seems to cast doubt on the employer's Duty of Care, the Court of Appeal has ruled that signs of stress in a worker must be obvious to their managers before the company can be taken to court for negligence. And if the employer provides stress counselling it is unlikely an employee would be able to sue for psychiatric injury resulting from stress. The verdict seems to suggest that if a piece of machinery is dangerous it's now up to employees to demand safety guards, and that if an employee has a hand chopped off in a machine the employer is unlikely to be held liable for negligence if they have provided first-aid kits. [More]
Long hours shame
4 February 2002: the TUC has branded as "disgraceful" new figures which show that UK workers work some of the longest hours in Europe. TUC General Secretary John Monks added, "Other countries produce more, earn more, and work far shorter hours." [More]
Dignity at Work Bill
4 February 2002: the MSF (renamed Amicus) union's Dignity at Work Bill is before parliament.
How much is the serial bullying
costing your organisation?
2 February 2002: one of the ways of getting employers and governments to take notice of bullying is to educate them that as to how much it's damaging their bottom line. To that end I've written an article The hidden cost of a bully on the balance sheet for the magazine Accounting & Business.
Stress claims rocket
2 February 2002: stress at work claims have increased significantly according to an annual survey by the UK's TUC. Senior Health and Safety Officer Owen Tudor said there was now a recognition that stress was just another type of industrial disease. [Full story]
New campaign to prevent death at
30 January 2002: the TUC and Campaign for Corporate Accountability (CCA) have launched a campaign to crack down on deaths at work. [Details]
Advice Line celebrates six years
28 January 2002: the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line enters its sixth year whilst Bully OnLine at Bully Online enters its fourth year. The services have contact with around 1000 new cases every year.
Nurses are bullied
15 January 2002: bullying is rife in the NHS with levels of of up to 50% being reported. One site that describes a typical case of bullying in an NHS Trust is at www.nurses-are-bullied.org
Writer's revenge on school
13 January 2002: turning an unpleasant experience of racist bullying at school to good use, Jackie Kay began her writing career by authoring poems of revenge against her bullies. [Full story]
Chronic fatigue syndrome
recognised at last
11 January 2002: a report compiled for Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Sir Liam Donaldson has called for the recognition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or CFIDS, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitisor or ME) as a chronic condition with long term effects on health on a par with illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease. The report also recommends early diagnosis, better access to treatment, and that CFS/ME should be included in the education and training of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. The only omission from the report seems to be that one of the causes of CFS can be long-term bullying, harassment and abuse, which compromise the body's immune system and drain the body's energy reserves. [Full story]
Scottish pioneer honoured
2 January 2002: Scottish pioneer Sandra Brown, who runs the Scottish Workplace Bullying Information Line, was awarded a runner-up medal as "Scottish Citizen on the Year" for her tireless work in the voluntary sector. Sandra received her award from the Scotsman newspaper at a recent international St Andrew's Day Award Ceremony attended by TV personalities and sporting giants such as Sir Jackie Stewart.
As well as giving support and practical advice to adults going through the trauma of being bullied, Sandra used the proceeds from her book on child abuse, Where there is evil, to set up the Moira Anderson Foundation, a Scottish charity, in 2000. It has so far helped some seventy families involved in going to court. A Cutting Edge documentary last year highlighted Sandra's fight to see justice for families affected by the tragedy of child sexual abuse.
"The experience of running the workplace bullying helpline and delivering training to raise awareness of the parallels between abuse and bullying gave me the confidence to move on from my own experience of being bullied within a children's charity which helps children in Scotland," Sandra said. "Referrals on the support line number over 150 since I took it over in 1999, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. Scotland has not got a good track record when it comes to dealing with the problem. The new First Minister, Jack McConnell, is showing interest in what is on the ground to tackle the problem in terms of children.
"From a negative experience however, which ended with no less than three women, including myself putting the bully on the spot in court in the last six months (as at least one of us was successful in getting it all the way to tribunal) I have been able not only to survive to tell the tale- which some don't - but am now confident I know how charities should NOT be run. If I have a message for others it is that you can change the script by fighting back. Bullies hate exposure, and ridicule every bit as much as child abusers do, and we are starting to see a big shift in society's attitude to both scourges. Accountability is all important: I am sure the woman who bullied myself and many others had it brought home to her when she attended tribunal knowing all three of us who had all worked over different time scales for the agency had each felt it necessary to lodge an IT1 Form to have unscrupulous behaviour and unfair treatment exposed.
"It's great to receive such a prestigious award from a national newspaper in recognition of the importance of the work done so far, but there is a long way to go. The efforts of people like Tim Field and Diana Lamplugh have inspired me, so I hope in turn, this award for my work might inspire others to do their bit."
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