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Tougher bullying laws needed to change attitudes

Tougher bullying laws needed to change attitudes

Bully, tough

Whatever supressed psychological issues harbour deep within the psyche of bullies are, it’s an insidious act of unfair justice, writes Jessica Hickman.

Psychologists can best explain why bullies behave the way they do and what motivates them, and whether bullying takes place at work or at school — it is a breach of basic human rights.

Bullying has taken a different dimension with the advent of evolving technology. Being bullied at work or school isn’t what it used to be. The landscape has dramatically changed.

Social media has denuded the lines of containment and opened the doors to a world where the bullied are subjected to unfair mental and emotional torment and
degradation, allowing everybody and anybody to participate in a person’s bullying not just in the school yard or workplace.

The multiplier effect of social media makes bullying today far more wide spread than 30 years ago — the scope and reach and methods bullies can now employ to
dehumanise and subject a person to, is far greater.

The use of pictures, videos, online commentary, trolling and generated collective behaviour along with other acts of bullying all form part of the act to mentally destroy the bullied.

Current laws lack the appropriate grunt required to effect change to protect people subjected to bullying through social media and methods of bullying.

The need for harsher penalties are required to reflect a zero-tolerance approach, because the demons of bullying continue to grow at a rate far beyond any level of acceptability — making education and tougher laws the key in the strategy to win the day once and for all and put a stop bullying.

Bullying has become a global epidemic, leaving people open to mental abuse without protection. It will be the introduction of harsher new laws mandated, that will ensure they become a true first line of defence in the fight to protect those most vulnerable and at risk of being bullied.

Bullies it seems, regardless of the behaviour’s social condemnation, have little regard for existing laws because they are failing in the very premise they are meant — to prosecute effectively bullies for their actions.

Bullying is a crime and it should be treated as one, and not as a social dysfunction committed by people who think mental and emotional torment is acceptable.

Unless tougher laws are introduced and those who commit the act of bullying be charged and sentenced as criminals, then any attempt to try and stop bullying can only ever be described as futile.

Tougher laws are imperative and changing behaviour through court will serve to help bring about a change in attitudes.

At present, there are those who don’t care if they are labelled as bullies. But labelling someone as a criminal through tighter laws has greater impact to change attitude and behaviour.

Bullying at work, as defined by the Fair Work Act 2009, occurs when:

• a person or a group of people behaves unreasonably and repeatedly towards a worker or a group of workers while at work,

• behaviour that creates a risk to health and safety

Bullying may involve, the following types of behaviour:

• aggressive or intimidating conduct

• belittling or humiliating comments

• spreading malicious rumours

• teasing, practical jokes or "initiation ceremonies"

• exclusion from work-related events

• unreasonable work expectations, including too much or too little work, or work below or beyond a worker's skill level

• displaying offensive material

• pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner

To bring about a dramatic shift in attitude and create a protective mechanism to guard those most vulnerable to bullying, a mindset needs to be adopted where everyone clearly understands how they must behave towards others and what their responsibilities are.

Change in behaviour and attitude will only come through the introduction of better education programs, tougher laws and penalties supporting anti-bullying, which makes the education programs and harsher laws essential tools needed to create a paradigm shift and mindset where bullying becomes a crime and not an unacceptable form of behaviour.

Jessica Hickman is an anti-bullying campaigner and the Bullyologist.

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