Bullying prevention

Policy and procedure

Definition of bullying

Bullying

What isn't bullying?

  • Directed towards a specific person or persons
  • Unreasonable behaviour which causes harm to another person's body, feelings, property or reputation
  • Distress for the recipient
  • Repetition of the harmful actions
  • A power imbalance
  • Inability of the target to easily leave or avoid the situation
  • Appropriate, reasonable and constructive feedback
  • The legitimate exercise of managerial authority
  • Social non-preference
  • One-off acts of unpleasant or disrespectful behaviour

Who bullies and who gets bullied?

Many possible bullying situations can occur in a university context:

  • Students can bully other students
  • Students can bully staff
  • Staff can bully students
  • Staff can bully other staff
  • Managers/supervisors can bully staff
  • Staff can bully managers/supervisors

Is this bullying or not?

Case study one

Cam and Frank had been estranged for more than fifteen years after Cam won a senior position that Frank believed he should have been offered after being in an 'acting' role for two years. Frank had transferred to another school rather than work under Cam. However, eventually they ended up in the same building and on the same committee. Frank complained that Cam continually made remarks that belittled him. Cam complained that Frank deliberately kept walking past his office and staring belligerently at him and insisted that he be given an office on another floor.

Case study two

Janine had a history of chronic fatigue symptoms and had used up all of her sick leave. Her supervisor had told her that her work had not been satisfactory for some time and that she needed to improve her work output. Janine had reacted angrily and told her supervisor that she had not been well for some time and that she had expected some understanding. The meeting ended up with Janine in tears berating her supervisor for her lack of support. A few weeks later Janine's supervisor crossly told her to either take leave without pay until she was feeling better or receive an official unsatisfactory warning. Janine made a complaint about bullying against her supervisor.

Some examples of bullying behaviour

  • Calling someone insulting names or using an offensive or disliked nickname
  • Deliberately withholding information that is vital for effective work or educational performance
  • Forming a group against someone, or persuading others to exclude them socially
  • Using non verbal putdowns and intimidation such as finger signs, rolling eyes, continual staring, laughing at comments or mistakes
  • Damaging or interfering with personal property (eg changing the height of their chair, hiding material or work folders, opening their computer or desk without permission)
  • Verbal abuse
  • Implementing practical jokes where the victim is humiliated
  • Unfair allocation of work or rosters
  • Applying petty work rules that aren't applied to others
  • Making overt or implied threats of employment termination, low assessment, reduced work hours or demotion
  • Shouting or using abusive language
  • Constant, intrusive surveillance or monitoring of job performance
  • Setting someone up so that they receive negative consequences or admonition for things they have not actually done or that they did because of a lack of information
  • Unwanted touching or sexual remarks or intrusions into one's personal life of other kinds
  • Assault, pushing, blocking, or unwanted physical contact
  • Inappropriate comments about appearance, family members, or friends
  • Making life difficult for the other person in different ways, e.g. blocking their selection for a particular position etc.
  • Finding a mistake and exaggerating it in public
  • Organising meetings at impossible times
  • Using constant unreasonable criticism or sarcasm or always finding fault in trivial ways
  • Issuing public reprimands or belittling them in public
  • Using putdown remarks to ignore someone's input in classes or at meetings
  • Sending offensive text messages, faxes or emails or leaving offensive messages on answering machines
  • Spreading rumours or stories designed to harm someone's reputation
  • Disclosing another's personal information

**Bullying behaviour can be difficult to detect because of the enormous variation**

Rights and expectations of staff and students

GroupExpectationsRights
Students
  • Are responsible for their own behaviour and must not participate in or encourage bullying;
  • Are discouraged from using an intimidating interpersonal style characterised by disrespect, putdowns etc, although the behaviour may not constitute bullying;
  • Who believe they are being bullied, or who are aware of or witness bullying within the University should report it promptly in accordance with the Bullying Prevention and Management Procedure;
  • May face disciplinary action if they participate in or encourage bullying.

All staff and students have the right to:

  • a safe learning and working environment.
  • receive support from classmates and co-workers if they are being bullied.
  • express their objections to being mistreated.
  • make an informal or formal complaint about bullying without fear of reprisal and to expect that the complaint will be taken seriously and acted on.
StaffAs above, and:

Academic and teaching staff are expected to:

  • Take reasonable steps to stop students behaving disrespectfully in class or in other academic or teaching contexts; and
  • Report student behaviour consistent with bullying in accordance with the Bullying Prevention and Management Procedure.

Local managers (as defined in the Bullying Prevention and Management Procedure) are expected to:

  • Take reasonable steps to stop any behaviour which is consistent with bullying or which is disrespectful, even if unreported; and
  • Take seriously any reports of workplace bullying and investigate them promptly, confidentially and impartially; and
  • Publicise the terms of the Bullying Prevention and Management Policy and Procedure.