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Adult and Student Bullying Is Not That Different – by Rodger Dinwiddie


There are several types of adult bullies identified by authors Gary and Ruth Namie, “In The Bully at Work.” There are chronic bullies – those who are mean, nasty people at work. Opportunistic bullies are those, according to the Namies, the worker in the workplace is most likely to encounter.  The opportunistics bullies are the climbers and they are different from chronic bullies. When the opportunistic are away from work, their “competitiveness” is likely to subside. They know “what is actually rewarded.”

And then, there are the accidental bullies. In the words of the authors, accidental bullies are fairly benign. The Namies also remind us that according to the “Campaign on Bullying in the Workplace,” 89% of bullies in the workplace are in management. So, in order to address bullying, all employees are included in strategic activities to eliminate bullying in the workplace.

Students are often not much different than adults in the way in which they bully. There are those people who chronically bully others. Some join in but don’t start it. And, there are those who sometimes do and say things that are not meant to hurt others but in fact do. The same principle is involved in addressing bullying in schools. In order to eliminate bullying in schools, no matter what the form, everyone must take an active role.

STARS provides bullying prevention and intervention training for schools throughout the Middle Tennessee area and coordinates the Tennessee Bullying Initiative. Part of our work in Tennessee is to train other professionals who will train schools and to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program process in schools. The Olweus Program has at its core four main components, interventions at the whole school level, with individuals, and at the classroom and community levels. Obviously, to effectively intervene in bullying situations it requires everyone’s involvement. No one intervention is as effective without the others. Sounds a lot like what the Namies recommend for workplace bullying.

STARS is deeply committed to creating a culture and work space that centers on the power of relationships, that values diversity of perspective and experience, and that honors the dignity, worth, and contributions of all.