Anti-Bullying for Work, School and Society

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Anti-Bullying for Work, School and Society

Anti-bullying policy is based on risk management under the work health and safety (WHS) duty of care to prevent injury to workers, which can provide a level of protection when it is fully implemented, to prevent bullying before it is repeated. Without this level of protection, we are relying on the legal protections designed to stop bullying after it is repeated but before it is persistent over time. The goal of workplace bullying should be to provide employees with the skills to prevent bullying at work such as conflict management and emotional awareness to create an ethical culture of reasonable responsible communication. Armed with those work skills and experience, our schools are also in the best position to teach our children the advantages of anti-bullying at an early age, to develop a more tolerant society free from bullying in all forms.

Some schools already have the policies to stop schoolyard and cyber bullying in place right now. These policies include bullying management policies where unreasonable behaviour is repeated, together with ‘Positive Behaviour in Learning’ (PBL) policies that identify positive behaviour to be encouraged before unreasonable behaviour is repeated. Under these PBL policies schools draft a list of positive behaviours in consultation with the students which facilitate productive learning. To be fully effective these policies need to be properly implemented through conflict management and emotional awareness training.

At work the key to proper implementation of any risk management policy is the ethical leadership strategies involving training, coaching and monitoring. At school, training needs to cover the application of integrated Bullying and PBL policies, emotional awareness, together with conflict management, resolution and de-escalation together with bullying management processes to deal with the consequences of unreasonable behaviour. Professional assistance may be required to effectively coach individuals or counsel victims of unreasonable behaviour. Monitoring of policies and procedures as they are implemented is important and particularly during exit interviews with departing individuals to assess the effectiveness of policies and procedure for updating from time to time as required.

Schoolyard conflict is not bad, it is a natural human process to resolve issues where parties have differing opinions on the right way to achieve an objective. Reasonable conflict will occur in the form of argument where parties disagree on task issues rather than personality issues. Effective resolution should be the only objective of conflict and resolution can only be achieved without avoiding reasonable discussion. Through this process we can share ideas which were either not considered or ruled out by external considerations. Conflict can reveal creative possibilities that can be shared between many minds to solve problems. The degradation of conflict into unreasonable behaviour is unproductive to the process and can create a culture of silence to stifle creativity. Repeated persistently over time this can cause bullying injury. The solution to any escalation of conflict is training in the application of de-escalation techniques to defuse situations before they degrade to an unreasonable level.

Where positive behaviour policies fail is where the policy is drafted, introduced but not fully implemented. More prevalent is the failure of the policy to be introduced or implemented properly to new students, year after year, who were not involved in the initial drafting consultation process. To be properly implemented requires school management commitment with ethical leadership principles to provide proper training, coaching and monitoring for the promotion of a positive culture of respectful responsible communication.

Just imagine a world where your children are being taught the same values of anti-bullying we share at work. Conflict should not be avoided but nurtured with skills to create a creative and productive world through cooperation. Consider the possibilities of a community sharing the same positive values at home and in public.

Kevin Gilmore-Burrell LLB MBA

© Empathyse ™ Anti-bullying Consulting 2019