Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bullies Begone Article



ANN ANDREWS speaking on Performance Management
MICHAEL SMYTH - speaking on The legalities and avoid damages claim
JANICE DAVIES - speaking on The victim and bully traits.

Be quick to reserve your space.



Why bullying at school is creating problems with our economy and how to fix it

Bullied at high school, it took me twenty years to realise its impact and get back on track in life. Both my daughters were bullied at high school as well. One received text death threats and this was solved with taking the telephone to the police. The other was the recipient of physical abuse from a group of girls and this was solved with changing schools. Whilst both daughters are now qualified and working in their dream careers, bullying at school can have a longer term impact on people’s lives and the success of New Zealand as a world economy.

How bullying impacts our economy

A recent report published by Massey University reveals that New Zealand has some of the highest rates of workplace bullying in the world illustrated by the fact that in the health, education, travel and hospitality sectors 18 percent of those surveyed had been bullied at work. The cost on the victim is immense and in my case cost me 20 years of my life, but there is also a cost on the organisation which permits the bullying behaviour and the bully.

For the organisations, bullying leads to employee disengagement which research shows means higher absenteeism, higher staff turnover costs and lower sales (estimated by the Best Places to Work Survey as being 60% less than a fully engaged workplace). For the bully, failing to deal adequately with their behaviour denies them the opportunity to grow into great leaders. It should come as no surprise therefore that these problems start at a young age when the bully is at school. With truancy on the rise it’s vital to cull the bullying so victims like my daughters are not wagging school to be safe.

School bullying and how to fix it

It is easy to think of school bullying as occurring between pupils only, but let’s not forget that teachers can be victims too, whether that arises from being bullied by another teacher or even one of their students. Therefore different strategies need to be adopted to deal with each situation.

One Manurewa East primary school principal, who completed his masters in the UK focussing on bullying, used his research to solve the school’s problem of bullying between pupils. He introduced compulsory sport in the last half hour of lunch breaks, which research proved was the time most bullying occurred. Not every student likes maths, or reading but it was still part of the curriculum so he introduced compulsory lunchtime sport. Students are kept busy and have no energy to bully others.

That strategy tackles one cause of the problem – boredom by pupils. However, in the workplace boredom is unlikely to be the issue and rather, the Massey report suggests that a primary driver of the problem is a lack of leadership skills within an organisational culture which tolerates bullying behaviour. So if there is a problem of bullying in the workplace (including between teachers) then a different approach needs to be taken.

Start with the culture

In any organisation, the starting point is to look at the culture to see whether it tacitly encourages or actively discourages bullying behaviour. Let’s not forget that our teachers of today were our pupils of yesterday. Similarly our current business leaders, managers and employers also were the pupils of yesterday. A person who grew up in a school environment which allowed him or her to engage in bullying behaviour is more likely to carry that trait forward into adulthood and into the workplace.
Schools therefore must adopt a zero tolerance bullying culture which encourages pupils to work in teams not cliques, creates respect amongst students and most importantly builds confidence and self esteem within individuals. Some classroom strategies include:

• Creating anti bullying zone in class and school
• Art class – making ‘anti-bullying posters, creating dream (goals) posters
• Education about good, bad, happy, angry, scared, fearful, exciting, sad feelings and their appropriate actions
• Educating about feeling good by positive actions (create rewards and certificates)
• Teaching and boosting self esteem with genuine compliments (start a give a compliment day)
• Rotate students seating and include group work to constantly create new teams
• Boost self-esteem by more ‘up the front’ presentations
• Start a new set of positive classroom rules with input by teachers and students
• Including books, DVD’s and posters for further education.

With that culture in place, the school then needs to have systems and processes in place for dealing with bullying complaints which allow victims to reach out for help without making the situation worse for them. Such processes shouldn’t focus solely on relationships between students but incorporate the relationships of student and teacher and teacher and teacher, anticipating that there may be situations where it is the teacher than is being bullied by the student.

As this problem increases a teacher needs to revert to use assertive phrases “I can understand how you are feeling” or similar to let the student understand they are being listened to valued and continue communicating with follow up discussions planned. However, step two if you ‘intuition’ or ‘gut reaction’ is to that physically danger is imminent, remove yourself with phrases like “I'll go and find someone else we can discuss this with” or similar. If personal safety factors are a major concern rearrange the room so your desk is close to an exit.

Next fix the people.

The key strategy when dealing with the victim and the bully is raising their level of self-esteem. After its impact on myself and family, it’s my life mission to improve the awareness of self-esteem, hence the annual mid-year Selfday – International Self Esteem day. Free tips, downloads, Eposters are available for download on www.internationselfesteem.com and visit the bully page for additional information.

Another concept is a Friday afternoon or Monday morning session in the classroom designed to re-enforce self-esteem, achievements, goals and steps for present and future successes. It includes encouraging pupils to use phrases such as:

• I am great because …
• Today I achieved …
• I felt good because …
• Next week I will try …
• I wish that …

These have been compiled into a one page Success Journal which can be downloaded and copied weekly from http://www.attitudespecialist.co.nz/school-coaching.htm.

For both bully and victim, lessons in leadership are vitally important. Study great leaders and encourage pupils to identify different leadership styles and whether each style is effective in bringing the best out of the team and the individual. It is a sad fact that many people entering industry today are ill equipped to take leadership roles and when promoted into those positions leave a trail of destruction behind them.

Education goes further than the curriculum.

Teachers have long known that by educating our children through the school curriculum we create adults who have the intellectual minds to tackle the problems of the future. However, the Massey report identifies that where New Zealand is falling short amongst its global counterparts is in the area of emotional intelligence and effective leadership which are the antitheses to bullying. Development of those skills starts at school.

After working in education systems from pre-school to tertiary and understanding some of its complexities, it’s vital that bullying is addressed. Students are failing because of its impact. Behaviour in society is reflected in our schools and I have joined forces with a performance management expert Ann Andrews and lawyer Michael Smyth to stamp out bullies. Help us to make a difference with our survey invitation below.

What are your views on bullying and how it can be fixed?

We would like you to take part in a short 5-10 minute survey on bullying. To take the survey, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/nobullies

Janice Davies is The Attitude Specialist, who teaches people to be positive and empower themselves. As a Professional Speaker, Success Coach and author Janice educates people at conferences, workshops and through books. Janice is the founder of the global movement International Self Esteem awareness day.. Janice has online complimentary articles, tips, E-courses, E-posters products on attitude, self-esteem goals, stress, happiness, relationships and more. Visit http://www.attitudespecialist.co.nz.

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