Cyberbullying reaching adults in the workplace

Cyberbullying reaching adults in the workplace

Cyberbullying is often seen as something that happens to teens and students, but according to new research, online bullying has also spread into the adult population through universities and workplaces.

Contrary to popular belief, a recently published study demonstrated that cyberbullying is not just a childhood phenomenon anymore. Researchers are beginning to explore cyberbullying rates throughout high school and beyond,” said Zarah Malik, spokesperson for Public Safety Canada.

A recent study from Simon Fraser University researchers found that 17 per cent of university students have experienced cyberbullying either by students (12 per cent) or by colleagues (nine per cent).

“The only real difference between the cyberbullying experiences of these adults and other studies of children was the content of the mean messages. For the adult victims, the target is more likely to be job-performance related,” Malik said.

According to Public Safety Canada, workplace cyberbullying can take on many forms, which could include e-mails threatening to have you fired without cause, tweets about a co-workers attire or potentially embarrassing photos of your boss posted on Facebook. Cyberbullying can include anything from public shaming through mass e-mail to making repeated jokes about an employee on social media.

The person who is bullying may be older, have more experience than the victim or could be in a superior position compared to the victim, but none of those things makes it justified or acceptable. It could potentially even be illegal.

When dealing with cyberbullying in the workplace, there are several tips to consider, from Public Safety Canada.

  • Keep cool. Don’t respond to hurtful texts, posts or messages, no matter how much you may want to.
  • Keep track. Document all e-mails, letters, memos, etc. you receive from the perpetrator and take screenshots of any hurtful content on social media.
  • Seek help. Send the evidence you’ve collected to someone in the organization that’s in a position to help, such as a contact in Human Resources or a trusted manager.

Most organizations have workplace policies that prohibit harassment and bullying. Your human resources department will be able to give more information on these policies, including the repercussions. Public Safety Canada suggests that if you don’t feel comfortable raising the issue at work, consider approaching a friend for help. You should also check with labour boards in your province to see what resources are available to assist you

If you feel someone you work with is being bullied, be there for them and help them find the resources they need to stop the abuse from happening. Tips and resources are available online at www.getcybersafe.gc.ca.

This article, written by Edmonton freelance writer Dave S. Clark was originally published by Postmedia Agency.