When we asked teachers what topics they would like to see addressed, we had an overwhelming number of responses asking us to address the issue of bullying. What surprised us the most was that it was not bullying by students that was mentioned most often, it was teachers being bullied by other teachers and the administration that was brought up time and again. The idea that teachers are the ones being bullied by their peers is just as disheartening as the fact that students are bullied by theirs.
The Anatomy of a Teacher Bully
Interestingly enough, the United Kingdom is far ahead of the United States in terms of recognizing and promoting anti-bullying efforts. In fact, there are teacher hot lines in England and Wales where teachers can call and receive crisis counseling for school related issues. UK based websites, like BullyingUK and BullyOnline, are also well known for promoting bullying awareness and providing resources for students and teachers. While there are numerous sites available for students who are being bullied, there are, unfortunately, very few that address the subject of bullying of teachers.
The National Association for Prevention of Teacher Abuse is one of the sites whose mission it is to bring awareness to the issue of teacher abuse by co-workers and the administration. Based in the United States, NAPTA was founded by a teacher who was bullied in the workplace and was eventually terminated. The site offers information about bullying and allows teachers to share their stories if desired.
What can you do if you are a victim of a workplace bully? Start by knowing that you are not at fault. Bullying is a power trip. It is a planned attack to to threaten and intimidate and no one, not students and not teachers, deserves to be bullied.
So, what are some steps that you can take to deal with bullies? Try the ones below, but remember, if you are ever physically threatened, call the police and human resources immediately. You do have options for dealing with the bully one on one, but a physical threat should never be taken lightly.
Steps for Dealing with a Workplace Bully
1. Tell the bully to stop.
Be specific, be direct and be calm. Get support from a trusted friend or mentor when you are ready to confront the bully if you need it.
2. Document everything.
Keep a running record of the specifics of every bullying behavior. This step is extremely important especially if the bullying ever escalates, or if the bully is a supervisor. Human resources will need documentation in order to begin disciplinary procedures, so keep as detailed a record as possible. Every piece of paper, email and phone call that you receive from the bully should also be saved.
Tell your supervisors and school administrators about the bullying and have them intervene. Showing proof of the bullying behavior through your documentation will be especially helpful at this point. If the administrator is the one doing the bullying, contact the school board or your teachers’ union for help and support.
4. Do not suffer in silence.
Remember that the bully wants you to feel inferior and to be isolated. Do not allow that to happen. Maintain friendships with co-workers, do not sequester yourself in your classroom and do not be afraid to ask for help. By suffering in silence you give the bully power and he or she wins.
Bullying has become an epidemic in schools, but it does not have to continue. Be brave enough to stand up to those who may be threatening you or making you feel uncomfortable. No one deserves to be bullied.
- Have you seen bullying in your school?
- How is bullying among teachers handled?
Leave a comment, anonymously if you prefer, and let us know!