Half the population are bullied ... most only recognize it when they read this
As we settle into the new millennium, you may be remembering your visit to the millennium dome, or your millennium party or millennium celebration of your own, or looking forward to a millennium holiday or millennium cruise. Or perhaps you were worried about the millennium bug. Whatever your celebration, the turn of the millennium is a time for reflection. Over the latter half of the last century, there's been a rapid increase in the rate of social progress, and this web site is about one of society's most common problems which has come to the fore at the turn of the millennium: bullying.
Bullying is not "tough management" but the self-interest of individual survival at the expense of others; it is the expression of weakness and inadequacy through the control of others using physical, psychological and emotional violence.
Over the last few millennia, the cluster of behaviours that comprise bullying (which are primarily about self-interest and self-protection) have ensured our survival; however, as we approach the new millennium, and due to a combination of the following factors, the human race has reached an evolutionary turning point.
population density: the population of planet Earth is around six billion (6,000,000,000) and growing
social progress: over the last 50 years social evolution has been rapid; the basic needs of survival (food, shelter and clothing), the means to achieve that (paid employment, physical labour), and security (safety and legal protection) have largely been achieved. Poverty and homelessness still exist, but are a political problem, rather than a survival problem. Regulation of family size (sex education, contraception, choice) and life expectancy (advances in medicine and health care) have liberated us and endowed us with higher expectations of life. It's likely that the rate of social evolution is a function of the quality of upbringing we give our children (see my abuse page); from my perspective I can see the start of the current evolutionary phase being coincident with the work of social reformers like Charles Dickens.
Whereas until recently, in evolutionary terms, a person's overriding objective was survival, that objective is now taken for granted; now the objective is fulfilment - living a long, productive, healthy and satisfying life whilst being free to identify and achieve one's objectives.
The law is the consensus of society; once a behaviour is identified and considered no longer acceptable, society enshrines that unacceptability by passing a new law. Thus in the UK (as in most democracies) we have the:
- Employment Rights Act
- Criminal law of assault for physical assault and, since March 1997, for psychological assault
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (discrimination and harassment on grounds of gender)
- Race Relations Act 1976 (discrimination and harassment on racial or ethnic grounds)
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (discrimination and harassment on grounds of medical condition)
- Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (stalking)
- European Working Time Directive 1999 (coercion to work long hours)
We have yet to pass laws outlawing bullying, and discrimination against gays and lesbians. The hallmark of a mature society is the ability to accept other people as they are and to respect the rights and dignity of oneself and others.
transport: air travel allows us to travel quickly and easily to almost any part of the planet; in under a century mankind has evolved from being unable to fly to planning the first space flight to another planet (Mars). Within 50 years, possibly 20, space travel will become as common as air travel. The development of the International Space Station (ISS) requires humans to work together as a single race, not as a planet of diverse warring factions. A thousand years ago, when asked "Where are you from" the answer was likely to be the person's home town. In a hundred years time, the answer is more likely to be "Planet Earth". There is no place for bullying, discrimination, harassment etc in the planning and execution of manned space flight. To boldly explore the universe means we have to learn to live and work together without violence, just as Gene Roddenberry predicted.
personal computers: the ubiquitous PC has now come within the reach of most households with Internet access one of the most popular applications after word processing and desk top publishing. In the UK in 1998, one household in four (the same figure as for dog ownership) has a PC with internet access. Broadband access is now the norm.
instant global communication: the Internet allows any person or group anywhere on the planet to communicate regularly and predictably with any other person or group on the planet. Tyrants and abusers have fewer opportunities to carry out their abuse without being reported and have fewer places to hide. Handheld digital camcorders aid the process. The world wide web therefore has the potential to speed social progress through the exposure and tackling of social iniquity on a global scale (this web site is an example). The pen may be mightier than the sword but today you can't beat a QWERTY keyboard.
personal communication: mobile phones are within the pocket of most people and many work worldwide; with the launch of a new global satellite communications system (Iridium) recently it is possible, using a new type of mobile phone, to contact any person anywhere on the planet from any other part of the planet, including the deserts, jungles, mountains or poles, also war zones and from within non-democratic regimes.
digital television: the availability and choice of high quality visual information and entertainment is about to explode with the launch of digital TV services; digital terrestrial TV also opens up two-way audio/visual communication.
The full potential will be realised when digital TV services, mobile communications, PCs and the Internet combine to provide fully interactive and visual global communications. I feel like Faraday trying to predict what electricity will be used for and how it will affect our lives.
These circumstances have culminated, at the turn of the millennium, in a recognition of the need to move away from the physical, psychological and emotional violence of bullying, otherwise those behaviours which have hitherto ensured our survival will, in the new millennium, ultimately destroy us.
We need therefore to find new ways of interacting, living and working together; to achieve this, we need:
firstly, to acknowledge that bullying exists and overcome denial
secondly, to identify the behaviours which constitute bullying
thirdly, to identify the factors which stimulate bullying and address them
fourthly, to identify the causes of what makes people become bullies, especially serial bullies (see abuse page)
fifthly, to address those causes
The current epidemic of workplace bullying gives us the insight to enable us to achieve these objectives. You can speed the process by educating those around you and alerting everyone to Bully OnLine at Bully Online
Sustainability: the best investment
The Field Foundation - working for a bully-free world
Where now at Bully OnLine?
How can I recognise that I'm being bullied?
What is bullying and why me? | Definitions of bullying
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about bullying
Overcoming myths, misperceptions and stereotypes
The answer to Why don't you stand up for yourself?
Bullying and vulnerability
Why have my colleagues deserted me?
What's the difference between bullying and mobbing?
What is harassment and discrimination?
Why grievance procedures are inappropriate for dealing with bullying
The difference between bullying and management
Facts, figures, surveys, costs of bullying | Cost of bullying to UK plc
UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line statistics
Profile of the serial bully - who does this describe in your life?
Antisocial Personality Disorder | Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Paranoid Personality Disorder | Borderline Personality Disorder
Bullies and attention-seeking behaviour
Munchausen Syndrome and MSBP
Information for nurses | Information for voluntary sector employees
Information for teachers being bullied
Bullying of lecturers in further education
Bullying of lecturers in higher education
Bullying in the social services sector
Bullying in the public sector - the political dimension and
why trade unions fail to support their members
Bullying in the military | Bullying of students
Scheduled training and conferences on bullying | Other events about bullying
Articles on bullying available online
Bullying on TV, radio and in print media
Requests to take part in surveys etc | Bullying issues needing research
Tim Field's quotes on bullying | Vision for bullying
Feedback about Bully OnLine | Survivor testimonies
The Secret Tragedy of Working: Work Abuse - PTSD Chauncey Hare
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