26% Of Younger Brits ‘Have Bullied Or Insulted Someone Online’
If you have a younger workforce with some members of staff aged between 16 and 18, it might be wise to send them on personal training courses so you know that they’re behaving in a responsible and grown-up manner, whether they’re in the office or not.
New research from think-tank Demos has found that 26 per cent of those aged between 16 and 18 have bullied or insulted another person on the internet, while 15 per cent admitted that they have joined in with others to troll a public figure or celebrity online. Boys are more likely to engage in such activity than girls in this regard.
Focus groups run by the organisation did find that young people often find themselves drawn into cyber bullying scenarios because they know their friends can see that they’re either being bullied or insulted – which results in them responding in a more aggressive manner.
Researcher at Demos Peter Harrison-Evans, who compiled the report, commented on the results, saying: “Our findings show that online social networking can clearly facilitate risky or negative behaviours among a substantial minority of young people.
“Despite this, we caution against an overly restrictive response, not least because this can be counterproductive – encouraging more covert risky behaviour or limiting engagement in the positive aspects of social media, such as relationship building, and political and civic engagement.”
Cyber bullying is often more associated with younger people and teenagers but that’s not to say that adults are immune to it in the workplace, so it’s important that employers do prioritise this and have policies in place to both prevent it and deal with it if something does happen in the office.
Different examples of bullying at work include posts and comments about others on social networks, email threats and offensive messages, or spreading lies and gossip over messaging systems.
Bear in mind that there is no single approach you can take to either prevent or bring an end to cyber bullying. You may need to alter your organisation and its overall culture, bring in more support services, develop new strategies to strengthen your leadership team or think about new accountability measures you can introduce to help counsel and discipline those doing the bullying.
You also need to make sure that your members of staff have clear policies in place about what constitutes acceptable behaviour – and the best way to go about this is to train your staff and middle and upper management so everyone is clear on how they have to behave while at work and, indeed, elsewhere.
Being proactive is an absolute must if you’re to protect your staff members from bullying, cyber or otherwise. If someone does come to you with a complaint, make sure that you listen carefully and take the situation seriously, investigating it thoroughly so you know that you’re dealing with the problem in the most effective way.