The Hidden Price of Ostracism – “…According to a new study in Psychological Science, the distress people feel when complying with a request to shun someone is virtually equal to that of their target. They’re also exponentially more likely to experience shame and guilt, a decline in autonomy, and reduced connectedness. “This work really shows that it goes against our nature to hurt other people,” said lead author Nicole Legate, a clinical psychology researcher at the University of Rochester. “It should provide even more incentive for parents and teachers to help curb prejudice.” To uncover the hidden price of ostracism, the researchers invited 152 people to play Cyberball, which is widely used in social exclusion studies. Among the various scenarios in the virtual game of toss was one in which participants were instructed to shut out one of the two other players, leaving that person largely unable to participate. Questionnaires completed before and after the experiment revealed that being shunned – even in a computer game – resulted in distress and anger, as compared to a neutral condition. More noteworthy to researchers, however, was that the people who complied with the shunning directive also saw harmful effects. Ostracizers’ distress was almost identical to that of the ostracized; their shame and guilt were exponentially higher than both the ostracized and neutral groups, while their sense of autonomy was dramatically lower; and their feeling of relatedness was significantly below that of the neutral group – although slightly above the ostracized group. Bullies’ accomplices suffer similar levels of distress as victims, finds study…” – Misty Harris, Vancouver Sun, March 14, 2013 (READ MORE)

Obese and overweight kids face bullying at school and at home – “…64 percent of the participants reported getting bullied at school. The risk of bullying increased with the child’s body weight. Most of the kids suffered bullying for at least one year (78 percent) while over a third (36 percent) had been dealing with bullying for five years. The most common bullies involved were the child’s peers (92 percent) and even those kids that they considered friends (70 percent.) When the bully was an adult, it was most often a sport coach (42 percent), although teachers (27 percent) were often culprits as well. Most heartbreaking though was that over a third – 36 percent – of kids who were overweight or obese reported suffering bullying from their own parents. In all cases, this bullying most often came in the form of verbal teasing (75 to 88 percent,) while cyberbullying (59 to 61 percent), and physical aggression (3 to 61 percent) were common as well…” – Jenn Savedge, Mother Nature Network, Jan 08 201 (READ MORE)

Allergies, extra weight tied to bullying – “…The new findings come from two studies published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. In one, Dr. Eyal Shemesh from the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and his colleagues surveyed 251 kids who were seen at an allergy clinic and their parents. The children were all between age eight and 17 with a diagnosed food allergy. Just over 45 percent of them said they’d been bullied or harassed for any reason, and 32 percent reported being bullied because of their allergy in particular. “Our finding is entirely consistently with what you find with children with a disability,” Shemesh told Reuters Health. A food allergy, he said, “is a vulnerability that can be very easily exploited, so of course it will be exploited…” – Genevra Pittman, Reuters, Dec 24 2012 (READ MORE)

Workplace Bullying Linked to Psychotropic Medication Use – “…Experiencing or observing workplace bullying increases the risk of subsequent psychotropic medication use, according to a study published online Dec. 12 in BMJ Open. Tea Lallukka, PhD, from the University of Helsinki, and colleagues questioned 6,606 employees of the City of Helsinki (80% women) who were aged 40–60 years at baseline (2000–2002) regarding workplace bullying. Survey data were linked to the Finnish Social Insurance Institution’s register data on purchases of prescribed reimbursed psychotropic medication (three years prior to and five years after the baseline survey). The researchers found that, after adjustment for age and prior medication, workplace bullying was significantly associated with subsequent psychotropic medication use for both women (hazard ratio [HR], 1.51) and men (HR, 2.15). Similar results were seen for women (HR, 1.53) and men (HR, 1.92) who observed bullying. Full adjustment for covariates, including childhood bullying, occupational class, and body mass index, modestly attenuated the associations. “Workplace bullying needs to be tackled proactively in an effective way to prevent its adverse consequences for mental health,” the authors write. One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry…” – JAAPA, Dec 18 2012 (READ MORE)

Workplace bullying and subsequent psychotropic medication: a cohort study with register linkages: – “…Our study showed that workplace bullying is associated with subsequent psychotropic medication based on objective register data reflecting medically confirmed mental health problems. These associations were found among both women and men. In addition to current workplace bullying, also earlier bullying and observing bullying were associated with psychotropic medication. Workplace bullying needs to be tackled proactively in an effective way to prevent its adverse consequences for mental health…” – Dr Tea Lallukka, BMJ Open, Dec 12 2012 (READ MORE)

Article focus:

  • Workplace bullying is a prevalent problem, which is associated with poorer mental health based on some previous studies using self-reported measures.
  • There are no previous studies on workplace bullying and psychotropic medication using longitudinal data and objectively measured, register-based outcome.
  • We hypothesised that workplace bullying is associated with the risk of psychotropic medication among both women and men, and that these associations are found both for victims of bullying and the observers. Moreover, we hypothesised that the associations remain even after considering key covariates.

Key messages:

  • This study showed that workplace bullying contributes to the risk of subsequent psychotropic medication among women and men who were victims or observers of bullying at their workplace. Also earlier exposures to bullying were associated with psychotropic medication over the 5-year follow-up.
  • The associations remained after prior psychotropic medication, childhood bullying, occupational class and body mass index, had been taken into account.
  • These findings further suggest that tackling workplace bullying helps prevent mental health problems among employees.

Strengths and limitations of this study:

  • The strength of this study was the use of register linkages. Thus, the data on medication were objective and covered all reimbursed psychotropic medication. Furthermore, we were able to consider prior psychotropic medication 3 years before the baseline, as well as had a 5-year follow-up. The data were large and comprised both women and men.
  • A limitation of this study was that the measures of bullying were based on single items and we were unable to examine the duration and intensity of bullying.

Ottawa Citizen: “…The study by the nation’s public health agency spans nearly 30 years and shows traditional patterns of suicide among young people in Canada are changing: Overall, while suicide rates for boys and male teens remained stable or decreased over the study period, the proportion of girls dying by their own hand is increasing…Suicide is the second leading cause of death — after unintentional injuries such as car crashes — among young Canadians aged 10 to 19; in 2008, there were 233 suicides among 10- to 19-year olds, accounting for 20.4 per cent of all deaths for that age group…

Among their findings:

  • In 2008, the suicide rate among 10 to 14 year olds was 1.2 per 100,0000, accounting for 10 per cent of all deaths in this age group; 88 per cent were the result of suffocation.
  • Among 15 to 19 year olds, the overall suicide rate in 2008 was 9.2 per 100,000, accounting for 23 per cent of all deaths. Suffocation was also the primary means, accounting for 73 per cent of suicides in boys (102 deaths) and 78 per cent of suicides in girls (53 deaths).
  • Suicide rates among boys aged 10 to 14 showed no significant change during the 29-year study period; in 2008, the overall rate was 1.6 per 100,000, and suffocation here, too, was the primary method. Suicide rates among males aged 15 to 19 decreased, from 19 to 12 per 100,000. While suicides involving guns began to decline in the early 1990s, suicides by suffocation increased every year. By 1994, suffocation had overtaken firearms as the leading method of suicide for this age group.
  • For girls, deaths by suffocation increased by an average of eight per cent each year, while deaths from guns and poison decreased.

The overall message is that if things have gone down, they’ve gone down partly because of means restriction – in this case restrictions of firearms,” he said. And while the new statistics are presented as global numbers for the entire country, “suicide is not evenly distributed in the population,” he writes in the CMAJ. The suicide rate among Aboriginal youth is three to five times that for non-Aboriginal young people, he said. It’s vital that young people have a positive sense of the future, Kirmayer said…” – Sharon Kirkey (READ MORE)

The Final Report of the First National Climate Survey on Homophobia in Canadian Schools

“LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, queer, or questioning) students are exposed to language that insults their dignity as part of everyday school experiences, and youth with LGBTQ family members are constantly hearing their loved ones being denigrated,” says the study being released at the annual general meeting of Egale Canada, an anti-homophobia human rights organization.

  • One in 12 straight students reported being verbally harassed about their perceived sexual orientation, and even more, close to 10%, of straight students were physically harassed or assaulted about their perceived sexual orientation.
  • 55% of sexual minority students were verbally harassed in school.
  • “Students of colour” are less likely to know an “out’’ student than are white and aboriginal students, and are more likely to perceive an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum as negative. A higher percentage of aboriginal students know ‘‘out’’ students than do white students, and aboriginal students are most likely to see an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum as positive.
  • 70% of all participating students heard expressions such as “That’s so gay” in school on a daily basis, and 48% heard words such as “faggot,” “lezbo” and “dyke” every day in school.
  • Verbal and physical harassment are reported occurring significantly less frequently in schools with anti-homophobia policies, but there is no significant difference in LGBTQ students feeling unsafe in schools with such policies.
  • 64% of LGBTQ students feel unsafe at school, and by far, the least safe places are gym change rooms and the student washrooms.

Source:Study finds startling new data on homophobia in Canadian classrooms

  • Popular kids are more likely to torment their peers, according to UC Davis researchers whose conclusions countered the belief that bullies tend to be the troubled students in school.
  • Only kids at the very top of the social hierarchy bucked that trend; the most popular students were among those least likely to be bullies, according to the study released Tuesday. Aggressive behavior has long been linked to social incompetence, psychological difficulties or trouble at home, but the researchers found that bullying was an “instrument for social climbing.” Source: Bullying seen as ‘instrument for social climbing’
  • At the beginning of the school year, 40 percent of students said they had harassed another classmate; in the second survey in the spring, 33 percent said they had done so. Higher social status – defined as occupying the hub of a school’s social network rather than the periphery – in the fall predicted higher rates of aggression in the spring.
  • On average, each student was aggressive toward 0.63 fellow students at the end of the school year. A few particularly aggressive students – socially central athletes – harassed as many as nine students each.
  • Though the study reinforces popular stereotypes about social cliques in schools, it contradicts academic notions about aggression, Faris said. “For a long time, there was emphasis on seeing aggression as a product of the home environment,” he said. “Here we’re getting a different picture.” The findings suggest that anti-bullying programs need to focus on the role of the nonviolent majority of students, said UCLA psychologist Jaana Juvonen, who studies bullying in schools.
  • “It’s really critical for bystanders to speak up,” said Juvonen, who wasn’t involved in the new study. “If there’s an aggressive kid everyone bows down to, it sends a signal to the bully that what they’re doing is working.” Source: Study links teenage bullying to social status
  • 1 in 10 have bullied others and as many as 25% of children grades four to six have been bullied (Gov’t of Alberta Children and Youth Services). Source: Subject: Bullying
  • Suicide rates are 14 times higher among homosexuals. Victims of homophobia had disruptions in their output of cortisol, a hormone released in the brain as a response to stress. Normally, cortisol levels are highest in the morning and lowest in the evening, but those facing homophobic bullying consistently produced higher levels throughout the day. Source: Bullying boosts gay and lesbian suicide rates Homophobia bad for health, study concludes
  • Young people across Canada are being harassed and assaulted because of their sexual orientation
  • 80 per cent of the young people who are being attacked because of their perceived sexual orientation are actually straight.
  • Cases of perceived anti-gay hate crimes often go unreported.
  • Homophobic behaviour is passed down through generations at the kitchen table and has deep roots. Bullies end up in the work force, they end up in academia, they end up in unions. These practices don’t stop when you leave school, they continue throughout adult life. They become parents and that perpetuates the cycle.
  • Educational facilities are the second most likely place where hate motivated crimes are committed.
  • 56 per cent of these hate-motivated crimes against the LBGT community are in fact the most violent. Source: Hate crime prevention program could be adopted in N.B. schools Written by Alan Cochrane, Times and Transcript January 12, 2011

Nationwide statistics on workplace bullying

  • Men and women are equally responsible for the bullying behavior at workplace and 84% of those employees targeted for the abuse are female (Namie’s U.S. Hostile Workplace Survey, 2000).
  • Women bullies target women employees more often than they target males (Namie’s U.S. Hostile Workplace Survey, 2000).
  • Research on bully behavior and harassment concludes that bullies, like harassers, are driven by a need for power and control and choose to seek out a perceived weaker employee to dominate (Namie’s U.S. Hostile Workplace Survey, 2000).
  • 82% of bullied employees lost their jobs, and 38% left voluntarily (Namie’s U.S. Hostile Workplace Survey, 2000).
  • The Canada Safety Council (Institute of Management and Administration [IOMA], 2001) estimates that up to 52% of a target’s day is devoted to counter-bully tactics such as building a defensive network, developing counteractive strategies, or seeking political allies. So, in reality, the bully has won, and the organizational structure remains intact.
  • only 7% of the reported cases was the bully punished, transferred or terminated (Namie’s U.S. Hostile Workplace Survey, 2000).
  • 81% of bullies are in supervisory roles.
  • 58% of bullies are female (Namie’s U.S. Hostile Workplace Survey, 2000).
  • 84% of bullied employees are female.
  • 21% of all workers have been targeted by bullies.
    Source: When the Wrong Woman Wins: Building Bullies and Perpetuating Patriarch
    Research by Dr. Penelope W. Brunner (Associate Professor of Management, the University of North Carolina) and Dr. Melinda L. Costello (Associate Professor of Management, Siena College, New York), 2003

Bullying and sexual orientations

  • 59% of LGBTQ high school students reported they were verbally harassed, compared to 7% of non-LGBTQ students.
  • 25% of LGBTQ students indicated being physically harassed due to their sexual orientation, compared to 8% of non-LGBTQ students.
  • 31% of LGBTQ students reported personal harassment on the internet or via text messaging, compared to 8% of non-LGBTQ students.
  • 73% of LGBTQ students reported they felt unsafe at school, compared to 20% who did not.
  • 51% of LGBTQ students reported they did not feel accepted at school, compared to 19% of non-LGBTQ students
  • 85% of LGBTQ students reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
  • 40% reported being physically harassed.
  • 19% reported being physically assaulted.
  • Compared to Canada, fewer of the American students, 61% reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation.
  • The U.S. data, from the National School Climate Surveys, covers the period since 1999. It shows a small decrease in the frequency of homophobic remarks by students over the period, but LGBT students’ experience of physical harassment and assault remained relatively constant.
  • The surveys in both countries found bullying of sexual minority students is less common in schools that have an anti-bullying policy and/or have a gay-straight alliance.
    Source: Bullying and sexual orientation by the numbers
    Source: 2009 Canadian Climate Survey on Homophobia
    Source: Grades 6-12 also suggests being bullied at school is more likely for sexual minorities CBC News, October 30,2010

Bullying in Canada

  • Canada ranked a dismal 26th and 27th out of 35 countries on 13 year-old students’ reports of bullying and victimization, respectively (Craig & Harel, 2004). Across all categories of bullying or victimization, Canada consistently ranked at or below the middle of the international group. Moreover, our position on the international stage across all age and gender categories has slipped relative to other countries.
  • On the 1993/1994 survey, Canada’s ranking on the prevalence of bullying and victimization was less disappointing than in the 2001/2002 survey (King et al., 1996); however, the rates of bullying and victimization among Canadian students have remained relatively stable.
  • The drop in Canada’s relative ranking in spite of stable rates, suggests that other countries have been preventing bullying problems more effectively than Canada. Many of the countries that rank higher than Canada, such as Norway and England, have had national campaigns to address bullying problems. The high proportions of Canadian students who report bullying or being bullied confirm that this represents an important social problem for Canada.
  • Over this 8-year period, the tragic cases of Canadian children who have died or been seriously impaired by bullying raised awareness of the seriousness of bullying problems for both children who bully and children who are victimized. We are concerned because bullying is a relationship problem: the lessons of power and aggression in bullying can transfer to other relationships through sexual harassment, dating aggression, workplace harassment, as well as marital, child, and elder abuse.
    Source: Promoting Relationship and Eliminating Violence: Bullying In Canada,

Some Information on Workplace Bullying
Bullying is of a predatory nature, or even may be dispute-related in some cases, but as Namie (2003) was quick to point out, it should never be brushed off as a personality clash because:

  • Targets endure bullying for almost two years before filing a complaint
  • Targets have a seventy percent chance of losing their jobs
  • 17% of targets have to transfer to other jobs
  • Only 13% of bullies are ever punished or terminated
  • 71% of bullies outrank their targets
  • Bullying is three times more prevalent than sexual harassment
  • Bullying is often invisible and occurs behind closed doors without witnesses
  • Even when bullying is witnessed, team members usually side with the bully
  • As many as ten percent of suicides may be related to workplace traumatization

Reasons targets are bullied:

  • 58% are targeted because they stand up to unfair treatment by the bully
  • 56% are mobbed because the bully envies the target’s level of competence
  • 49% are targeted simply because they are nice people
  • 46% are bullied because they are ethical
  • 39% are bullied because it was just their turn
    Source: Information on Workplace Bullying
    Written by Katrin Becker, University of Calgary, March 17, 2005

Community-based harassment is a grown-up version of school yard bullying. Multiple individuals within a community participate in the harassment and stalking of a single individual. However, rather than attack a victim physically, techniques are used to undermine a person psychologically. This can be far more damaging than a physical attack because not only is it very hard to prove, but it is extremely traumatizing for the victim. (Also known as cause stalking or gang stalking).

In addition, this form of harassment often leaves the target a victim of ridicule among friends and family because of the subtle nature of the attacks, which further compounds the trauma to the victim. It is emotionally draining and isolating to the victims because it is extremely difficult to prove, and virtually impossible to prosecute.

  • In 15% of cases, the victim could provide no possible reason for their harassment
  • 13% reported that their homes had been bugged
  • 32% reported that the stalker(s) broke into/damaged the inside of the victim’s home
  • 38% reported damage to the outside of the home
  • 30% reported that the stalker(s) stole from the victim
  • 91% reported being watched
  • 82% reported being followed
  • 60% reported having their character slandered/defamed
  • 84% were victim to repetitive phone calls
  • 60% reported hang up phone calls
  • 57% reported silent calls
  • 46% reported negative attitude from the police, and 51% reported negative actions
  • 6/201 (approx. 3%) of respondents reported multiple stalkers
  • In 5/95 (approx. 5%) of cases perpetrators were part of a group. 40% of victims (38) said that friends and or family of their stalker had also been involved in their harassment (stalking-by-proxy). All cases of multiple stalkers involved mixed sex stalker groups Source: catchcanada