LIVE & LEARN: School Divisions Should Seek to Reduce Adult Bullying

| October 28, 2015 | 0 Comments | News

liveandlearnlogoI recently read a fantastic book called The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t in which the description states: “The definitive guide to working with – and surviving – bullies, creeps, jerks, tyrants, tormentors, despots, backstabbers, egomaniacs, and all the other assholes who do their best to destroy you at work.”

Because I read this book, and because October is National Bullying Prevention Month, I would like to dedicate this article to all school employees who have ever been bullied and those who are currently being bullied in the workplace.

Unless one has been bullied or harassed it is utterly impossible to describe the feeling of that harassment. Anxiety and fear are mixed with a loss of sleep and perhaps constant headaches. Add to that paranoia and a lack of trust in colleagues, and you a lethal combination for an educator who is responsible for the well being of our community’s children. I understand the impact of adult bullying as I’ve lived it.

After years of talking to colleagues from across the country, my eyes have been opened to this ugly concept of “bullying.” I have also heard that many adults as well as many people in power feel that the term “bullying” is too harsh, because, as they say, “Isn’t it really just teasing or acting unprofessionally?”

NO! If a child is afraid of his or her peers or teacher, it’s bullying. If a school employee is afraid to come to work because of the actions of his or her supervisor, it’s bullying. It’s as simple as that – it’s bullying!

Two years ago, the Virginia Education Association, in collaboration with Delegate Jennifer McClellan, successfully initiated the passage of HB 1871, requiring all school divisions to create policies and procedures to create a bully-free environment. I would ask ALL readers to click on the link above and read this simple statement. The title is “Bullying Prohibited.” That’s it! It’s so simple – BULLYING PROHIBITED. Next, look at the top of the site:

Code of Virginia, Table of Contents » Title 22.1. Education » Chapter 15. Teachers, Officers and Employees » § 22.1-291.4. Bullying prohibited

This clearly indicates that the bullying of “teachers, officers, and employees” is prohibited. Think about this: all school divisions implement some type of anti-bullying programs in their schools: Olweus Bullying Program, peer mediators or Character Counts. These programs are instrumental in educating children about the impact of bullying, standing up to bullies and treating each other with respect. Why are school divisions not creating programs to educate adults about bullying with the end goal being the elimination of adult bullying?

As a result of much dialogue, PWCS recently implemented “Civility in the Workplace” training for all school-based administrators.

I especially appreciate the efforts made by Deputy Superintendent Rae Darlington to ensure all administrators attend these training sessions. Amy White, Director of HR, has created and presented an important training that, I believe, is a wake-up call for administrators.

While this effort makes great strides to eliminate adult bullying, I think the school division should extend this training to include central office administrators, supervisors and directors. Any individual who evaluates employees should be required to attend this training.

The first step in eliminating bullying, harassment, or unprofessional behavior is to educate oneself about policies and regulations. Here are some helpful websites:

*http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title22.1/chapter15/ (§ 22.1-291.4Bullying prohibited)

*http://neatoday.org/2012/05/16/bullying-of-teachers-pervasive-in-many-schools-2/

(Great NEA article)

*http://pwcs.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/493839/File/Regulations/R503.02-1.pdf?e5db91&7ff3f8&758ccb&63a8f5&fb3f69&d7bb81&sessionid=d87046789b0b82708e6d9e0dd6ff3c8d (PWCS Code of Conduct Regulation)

*http://pwcs.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/493839/File/Regulations/R507.01-1.pdf?e5db91&7ff3f8&758ccb&63a8f5&fb3f69&d7bb81&sessionid=d87046789b0b82708e6d9e0dd6ff3c8d (PWCS Sexual Harassment Regulation)

* http://www.stopbullying.gov/ (For kids and parents)

No human being deserves to be mistreated, harassed or bullied. We spend time, money, and resources to help children; but when will we spend time, money and resources to help adults? I am proud to work in Prince William County Schools. I am grateful for the work done to begin the elimination of adult bullying.

For any adult going through this, please understand: You are not alone, you do not deserve to be treated this way, and there is help available!

Riley O’Casey is a local educator who teaches middle school social studies. She is also an active member of the Prince William County Education Association.

This column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Bristow Beat, its writers or sponsors.

© 2015, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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