Psychologically intimidating questions
Bullying, whether via the latest technologies or by more traditional means, is a growing problem in American workplaces of all kinds, and I don’t see why Federal agencies would be exceptions.(See, also, Pondering the Impact of Workplace Violence.) You may have read the very recent – and profoundly disturbing – headline about a Missouri woman who was found guilty of misdemeanor crimes in a “My Space” cyber-bullying case linked to a 13-year-old girl’s suicide.According to prosecutors, the woman conspired with her young daughter and a business associate to create a fictitious profile of a 16-year-old boy on My Space to harass Megan Meier, apparently in an effort to humiliate Megan for saying mean things about her daughter.The “boy” sent flirtatious messages to Megan, but then abruptly changed to a very harsh tone, telling her “The world would be a better place without you.” After receiving that message, Megan hanged herself with a belt in her bedroom closet.According to prosecutors, the woman knew that Megan suffered from depression and was emotionally fragile.– had made her a target in three different schools.She was so traumatized by the tormenting that she dropped out of school and is now pursuing independent study; the young woman “suffers so much that she could not be interviewed” for the article.I have written previously on workplace violence; this time, I am going to offer a few thoughts on bullying in the workplace, which a number of experts see as a form of workplace violence. Gary Namie has described bullying as “psychological violence,” and I think that is a very good description.
A major USA Today article dated November 19, 2008, entitled “Bullying devastates lives,” and chronicled the sad stories of three women who experienced constant bullying in school – one for having red hair, one for being shy, and one for being “different.” The three women, now ranging in age from 28 to 52, continue to be affected by the bullying that they suffered in school.According to Daniel Nelson, medical director of the Child Psychology Unit at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, “…there’s no question that ‘unrelenting,’ daily hostilities that maybe escalate to threats or actual aggression can be on par with torture…,” or that ” repeated and severe bullying can cause psychological trauma.” Nelson went on to observe that “There’s no question that bullying in certain instances can be absolutely devastating.” A companion article talked about a high school girl whose epileptic seizures – of all things!