Constantly criticized, nitpicked, undermined, sidelined, ignored, frozen out? Could be bullying ... read this
Bullying affects everyone. This page lists associated issues which require investigation, research and exposure. If you're preparing a article or feature, producing a TV programme, or writing a dissertation, you might wish to focus on one of the following areas.
On this page
The family | UK competitiveness (or lack)
Cost of bullying to taxpayers | Cost of bullying to shareholders and investors
Bullying by clients | Bullying of clients | Bullying of the elderly
Bullying of people with mental health problems
Bullying of people with special needs
Suicide | Trauma in adulthood resulting from bullying in childhood
Weakness of UK law
Stigma attached to taking legal action or association with corrupt employer
Bad reference prevents you gaining further employment | Ageism in the UK
Misuse of competency and capability procedures for bullying and unfair dismissal
One person in thirty is a sociopath | Influence of Freemasonry
Cost to welfare state | Economic costs
The family are the unseen victims of bullying. Britain has the highest divorce rate in Europe, with 1 in 3 marriages ending in separation and divorce. How many marriages break up because one partner is being bullied at work? See facts and figures page. Gill Hetherington is researching this issue for a book ... to contribute, see the research requests page.
Competitiveness of UK industry
Compared to the rest of Europe, UK workers have to work 25% longer but still produce less. Why? Bad management, greed and self-interest (senior executives paying themselves six-figure salaries whilst failing to update plant and machinery - Longbridge is a good example), failure of financial institutions to take a long-term view, failure of infrastructure (roads clogged, no integrated transport policy, Chunnel rail link 20 years behind the French, etc), young people leave school with academic exam results but little or no idea of the real world or the needs of business, and - the common denominator - our bullying culture.
Cost of bullying to taxpayers
The CBI estimate the cost to industry and taxpayers of stress and stress-related illness at £12 billion each year. The Department of Health state that on average, employers are paying 3.6% of their salary budgets to employees of sick with "stress". I believe bullying is the main - but least recognised - cause of stress. Dr Peter Graham, Head of the UK's Health and Safety Health Directorate said in September 1998 "Poor management is a major cause of stress". Have you noticed how government and employers are reluctant to talk about the causes of stress? See facts and figures page and the effects of stress on health.
Cost of bullying to shareholders and investors
Bullying has nothing to do with "managing" - people bully to hide their inadequacy, and bullies bully in proportion to their inadequacy. Whilst you can threaten anyone (with loss of job) into doing anything in the short term, bullying is inefficient as a management strategy. Prosperity is such organisations is illusory. See facts and figures page.
Bullying by clients
Many employees, especially in the caring professions, find themselves bullied - and often assaulted - by their clients. Teachers face more assertive and aggressive pupils and their parents, nurses are bullied by demanding patients and their relatives, customer service staff are bullied by customers, contractors and suppliers are bullied by their employers and customers, and so on.
Bullying of clients
Some bullies gain satisfaction from bullying both their fellow workers and their clients (eg pupils, patients, customers, contractors, suppliers, etc).
Bullying of the elderly
Elderly people in residential care are vulnerable to bullying by staff. There are often no witnesses, elderly people may be suffering illness or infirmity (eg Alzheimer's or dementia) and may be unable to defend themselves physically or verbally. They may have no relatives, or relatives who are not interested in their circumstances.
Bullying of people with mental health problems
Anyone with a mental health problem will be vulnerable to bullying. The Disability Discrimination Act now applies to people with a mental health problem - see article on News page.
Bullying of people with special needs
Some of the worst cases reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line involve the systematic and organised bullying of both children and adults with special needs. Serial bullies have an overwhelming and narcissistic need to be seen as kind, caring, and wonderful people (but are oblivious to the dysfunction, aggressiveness and inappropriateness of their behaviour) and are attracted to positions of power in charities and working with disadvantaged and disabled people.
Bullying of children by parents
The word "abuse" is often taken to mean physical or sexual abuse, but emotional and psychological abuse is just as damaging. See my page on abuse. A parent who bullies their child (eg constant nit-picking criticism, refusal to praise, encourage and acknowledge) is causing untold damage to their child's self-confidence and self-esteem. Chances are the damage will last throughout adulthood. The child is likely to either become a serial bully themselves (eg "the world owes me a living, and I'm going to make others suffer as I did"), or become a serial victim, always wondering "what I did wrong".
Between 10-12 children kill themselves each year because they are being bullied at school. I know of at least 12 adult suicides probably caused by bullying; because of the secretive nature of bullying, the compulsive lying and abdication of responsibility by bullies, and the general ignorance and denial of bystanders, I suspect the real number is in three figures. Around 5000 people kill themselves in the UK each year; Britain has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. To see why targets of bullying (and targets of all abuse) feel suicidal, click here; to see why targets of bullying often don't or won't report the bullying, click here.
Trauma in adulthood from bullying in childhood
The trauma resulting from severe bullying in childhood can blight a person for life. A number of cases reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line involve people (mostly males) in their thirties and forties who relive their childhood nightmare daily. The trauma prevents the person living a full life and achieving their potential, and often precludes gainful and useful employment; physical and mental health problems often result.
Weakness of UK law
There is no law against bullying in the UK, although there are at least 18 areas of law that can be used. Deficiencies in UK law are defined on the legal page - click here to display.
Many people who are bullied out of their job through no fault of their own are prevented from gaining further employment by the stigma surrounding having been dismissed (albeit unfairly), having taken legal action against a former employer, or from being associated with a former employer who has been accused of wrongdoing (as in the case of Malik v. BCCI).
People who are bullied out of a profession such as teaching, nursing or social work find it almost impossible to regain employment in that field either because they have been coerced into an ill-health retirement, or their former employer refuses to provide an adequate reference or provides a deliberately vague or bad reference.
Competency and capability
In certain professions, especially teaching, the serial bully fabricates criticisms and complaints as a means of imposing a competency or capability procedure. This tactic is designed to facilitate dismissal; the pressure is then steadily turned up until a mistake occurs and the person can be dismissed without recourse to appeals or legal action. The proposed fast-track dismissal procedures for teachers can easily be misused by bullies to eliminate anyone who can expose them. In nursing, the bully may report their target to the UKCC as a way of causing them to lose both their job and their career.
Sociopaths in the workplace
I estimate one person in thirty is a sociopath. Violent but intelligent, male or female, they express their violence by psychological means. Tell-tale signs are a Jekyll & Hyde nature, compulsive lying, lots of charm, aggression, dysfunctional and divisive thinking, denies everything, fabricates and distorts criticisms and allegations, flits from topic to topic, never able to pin him/her down on what the problem is, has strange attitudes to sexual behaviour, has a compulsive need to control, is emotionally cold and flat, and has a track record of harassing and destroying employees ... click here for the full profile.
Failure of personnel and human resources to deal with bullying
Of around 6000 cases reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line, around 3000 are working for an employer with a personnel department. In approximately 95% cases, the HR department has failed to comprehend the issue, failed to identify, recognise and deal the serial bully, and in most cases has joined in with the bully to get rid of the employee who has reported the bullying.
Ageism - discrimination on the basis of age - is rampant in the UK. If you're over 40 and you lose your job, the chances are getting a new job, especially a full-time job or real job are slim. If you've been bullied out of your job and you're over 40, the chances of another job are close to non-existent. Whilst the government claims that only 1.8 million people are out of work, there are 2.5 million people between the ages of 50-65 without a job. The figure of 1.8 million is not the number of people out of work, but the number of people who qualify for Job Seekers Allowance. Successive governments have made the qualifying criteria so tight that the actual number of people without a job may be three or four times this figure. See facts, figures and costs page.
Influence of Freemasonry
In a small number of cases, especially in the public sector, employees who have been bullied out of their job find their recourse to justice obstructed at every turn.
Cost to welfare state
Most people who are bullied spend considerable amounts of time off sick. If they lose their job they may spend months or even years on State benefit. In my own case (and after 20 years of continuous and gainful employment) I was on benefit for 18 months and in the three succeeding years have received rebates of income tax. Surveys suggest 14 million employees experience bullying at work in the UK; many will end up without a job, claiming benefit, and, if subsequently self-employed, reclaiming tax for perhaps several years. The costs of bullying to UK industry and taxpayers are on the facts and figures page.
In September 1998 the Queen visited Brunei. Contrast the standard of living in the State of Brunei with the standard of living in the UK. Both are oil-rich countries. Brunei residents have free education, free healthcare and pay no income tax. In the UK, the only hope most people have of maintaining a high standard of living is by either winning the Lottery or marrying a Fat Cat.
How much does bullying cost the UK annually? £12 billion? £50 billion? £100 billion? Equivalent to at least 2p on the basic rate of income tax? Taking the issue of bullying seriously is going to bring considerable economic rewards. See costs page.
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
Bullying resources in: Australia | Canada | Finland | France | Germany | Ireland | Sweden | USA
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Site index |
Bullying at work (this page) | School bullying | Family bullying
Bullying news | Bullying case histories
Press releases and media centre
Action to tackle bullying | Bullying resources
Stress, PTSD and psychiatric injury | Related issues
Related web pages
The Field Foundation
Bully OnLine Home Page
Books on bullying and psychiatric injury