There is a heightened awareness, at least in North America, about those in positions of power thinking it is OK to sexually assault and harass those around them. The predators who have made the headlines hail from business, the entertainment industry, and politics. Reaction has been swift in many cases but the damage for many has already been done and it will bring little peace to some.
Yet this is only one form of harassment. In our schools and in our businesses and organizations, bullying and harassment are commonplace. Some can deal with it and, while they may be scarred, they survive. Sadly, in the case of teens, we only hear of the tragic losses by suicide. We tend to think that the bullying stops when school ends and students move on to either work of further their education but that isn’t the case.
Unless they are stopped, bullies carry on their work into higher education and into the workplace, continuing to disrupt lives. Bullying can come from many sources including; co-workers, supervisors, employers, or from external sources such as clients, customers, members of the public, or workers from other organizations.
In British Columbia, through WorkSafeBC, we have legislation and regulations designed to curb workplace bullying and harassment and protect the employees. Employers are required to:
- Develop a policy statement on bullying and harassment
- Take steps to prevent or minimize bullying and harassment
- Develop and implement procedures for workers to report incidents and complaints
- Develop and implement procedures for dealing with incidents and complaints
- Inform workers of the policy statement and steps taken to prevent bullying and harassment
- Train supervisors and workers
- Annually review the above
Just like the statement, “There are no innocent people in the middle of a riot”, if you see or hear of harassment or bullying and do not act on it, you are furthering the problem. We are all responsible for each other in the fight to end bullying and harassment.
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