Troy Media – by Catherine Ford
Ontario has introduced anti-bullying legislation into its education act to try to curb an all-too-familiar schoolyard terror. The province did so in light of two recent teenage suicides, both students unable to bear one more day of being bullied – one for his sexual orientation; the other for his physical disability.
As with other well-meaning measures to combat the victimization of kids, it will prove to be essentially useless. It may very well nip school-based bullying in the bud, but let nobody fool himself that bullying will have been eradicated.
Bullies constitute an important cog in the workplace and if we think kids don’t recognize this, we’re deluding ourselves. They see, as does anyone who works for such a bully, that the rewards are considerable.
Impotent to stop it
Bullies come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and both genders. There is no “typical” bully, despite the media’s obsession with “mean” girls and “tough” boys.
Google “dealing with bullies” and within seconds, more than three million hits are available, much of it fatuous if the well-meaning articles delivered on the first page are any indication. Of course, children who are bullied need to tell an adult. Of course, parents should act promptly. Obviously, the school needs to have rules and regulations to deal with the playground bullies. Knowing all this, why then do we continue to obsess about bullying? Why are we so impotent to stop it?
Here is what the well-meaning scholars and schools, the intense doctors and therapists never tell you: Bullying continues to exist because the bullies are rewarded handsomely for their behaviour. And until the working world stops lionizing such behaviour, bullying will continue to be rampant in our society.
No possible good outcome can be achieved if all we do is make up stricter guidelines for schools.
So why don’t we face the real problem: the toxic environment workplace bullies engender and the rewards they reap by doing so.
Most of the advice – and there is a lot of it available at the click of a mouse – focuses on parents and teachers and what they can do for victimized children, or focuses on the victim and what he or she can do to solve their problems at work.
None of it will solve the dilemma; maybe it never will be solved. Most of the commentary about dealing with workplace bullies posits a one-on-one situation: one bully and one victim.
I’ve worked for more than one bully and can attest there is a worst-case scenario: a series of bullies who, together, control a company’s fortunes. And even if they lose their jobs, they simply go and work for someone else, or are named the CEO of another company. They get away with it because bullying pays off.
Why, then, don’t we warn our children instead of soothing them into believing bullying can be eradicated by stern measures taken by school administrators?
Often, I’m moved to quote some pertinent passage in a book, so let me quote the one I wrote myself – Against The Grain: An Irreverent View of Alberta – published in 2005.
“In the real world, bullies are often the winners. They are the so-called tough bosses who have pushed their way to the top over the heads of their weaker and less-aggressive colleagues. They are an archetype. They are the bulldogs, the pit bulls, the take-charge guys. They are the Donald Trumps of our lives.
“We’ve all worked for bullies. They are the most emotionally draining of bosses, sometimes physically threatening, and usually intensely disliked by the people they treat so shabbily. To a man (although they are not always men) they are stunned to discover they are loathed by their staff, albeit they are rarely told that to their faces.”
Instead, as I have seen myself, the bullied go on strike for better treatment. They usually don’t win. Why?
Because “in the business world, bullies are rewarded. They are lionized. They are imitated and toadied to. Too often, the men and women who report to them adopt the same attitude toward the people they supervise, and so it goes down the line until you have a toxic work environment. Little wonder schools are incapable of routing bullies; the world around them can’t and won’t.
“Bullying is tough to stamp out because we secretly admire it.”
No one has to believe me, but consider two Canadian larger-than-life celebrities: Don Cherry and Kevin O’Leary. If you don’t believe how much we approve of the bully, watch Coaches Corner on Hockey Night In Canada or Dragon’s Den, both on CBC-TV.
These men are among your children’s role models.
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