It’s Anti-Bullying Week from November 12 – 16th, and Stop Speak Support Day on November 15th. So we’re addressing cyberbullying with O2 – something that affects many of us, but which is notoriously hard to identity and stop.
We live in an age where technology keeps us all connected at work and in our social lives (hello, can you even imagine a world without the internet?!) But all this obsession with staying connected sometimes means we’re more susceptible to the darker side of the digital world than we might think.
Cyberbullying blurs the lines between our home and work lives, what often starts as jokey messages on personal accounts can easily find its way into the office, causing serious stress and upset in both areas.
Cyberbullying is any type of bullying that happens online, whether it’s on social media, through email or via texts, phone calls, picture messaging on smartphones. And with so many young people plugged into a variety of digital platforms that are also used at work too, cyberbullying in this area is growing increasingly common. In fact according to Bullying.co.uk, 56% of young people said they have seen others be bullied online and 42% have felt unsafe online.
Lacey, 24, recently started a job in a corporate environment. She told Go Think Big that she’d been subjected to pranks and had been left out of important email correspondence from other girls in her team who she suspected were jealous of her when she was promoted. She said “cyberbullying takes bullying to a new level because it makes it very difficult for you to fight back – like me. This can make you feel powerless because you want to face the aggressor but they have the option to block you or use an alias.” She noted that she always kept evidence of any harassment she faced at work and once she threatened to escalate things with her boss at work, the bullying stopped. “I was considering going to the police”, she added.
It’s often difficult to pull people up on cyberbullying at work, because most people don’t know what it entails. But, imagine if your co-workers were repeatedly leaving you out of group emails and projects, and it was impacting on your work performance. Or, if images of you from the office party were being circulated without permission via Snapchat and it was causing you *major* distress. Or, if your senior manager was repeatedly calling and texting you outside of work hours to criticise your work. These could all be examples of cyberbullying in the professional sphere, but often, they are notoriously hard prove. Victims may also feel as if they don’t want to make a fuss for fear of losing their job, or being further isolated from the work environment (tots understandable).
As Dan Raisbeck, co-founder of anti-cyberbullying charity The Cybersmile Foundation told the Guardian; “Adult cyberbullying in the workplace can be more subtle, but is equally distressing. The outcomes are often the same, to humiliate, undermine and distress the person being targeted.” The bottom line is if you’re being made to feel this way, then it’s not right.
If you reckon you’re the target of unwanted digital attention at work or elsewhere, there’s a lot that can be done about it, even though it might feel overwhelming or overly upsetting at times. You can:
- Keep all evidence; the silver lining to online harassment is that it’s very easy to screenshot and store all negative communication to show your boss, HR manager or police.
- Approach your office HR manager and ask them to intervene on your behalf if you’re being bullied by people within the company. Most places of work have behaviour policies and safeguards in place to protect employees from unwanted harassment, so the HR department should be able to offer some kind of assistance and are usually the best people to help.
- Change your privacy settings. Whilst the onus shouldn’t be on the victim to protect themselves from bullying, there are ways you can minimise its impact such as ensuring that all your social accounts are visible only to those who you want to see them with water-tight privacy settings.
In May 2016 O2 joined The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying. Established by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, it is an anti-bullying initiative aimed to tackle online bullying of young people. In November 2017 they launched a campaign with three simple steps to take when you see bullying online: Stop, Speak, Support. It’s aim is to tackle online “banter” amongst young people as and when it escalates to cyberbullying. Watch the video about it below, and remember if you’re being cyberbullied at work or elsewhere, you’re not alone. Work places have protections in place to eradicate this type of behaviour, and the police take it very seriously under the 1997 Protection from harassment Act; speak out and put a stop to it for good.
Watch this year’s video:
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