School bullies graduate to workplaces (editorial)

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer says his government is going to put money and resources into a program to make children safe from school bullies. Unfortunately, it required a nationally aired CBC News story exposing bullying at the only high school in Teulon, Man. to prompt action.

The uncomfortable light of the CBC’s cameras also had school division and Teulon Collegiate administrators scrambling to create a task force to look into bullying, the day after the program aired last month. The show featured a group of Teulon parents who transferred their children to schools in other towns, after they say the school’s principal and the school division took no action to protect their targeted kids. Manitoba’s education minister has promised to investigate.

What a flurry of activity. The shame is that bullying, be it in schools or at work, ranks so low on the list of priorities — unless of course the press shows up on your doorstep.

Perhaps the victims and their families can feel a sense of long-awaited justice being served in Teulon. But how many other Teulons exist in Canada? How many bullies are devastating the lives of victims and their families right now? How many workplaces are ready to explode in violence, as was the case in Ottawa in 1999 when Pierre Lebrun murdered four co-workers at an OC Transpo garage after suffering years of taunts over his stutter?

The Campaign Against Workplace Bullying, U.S.A. and Canada, clearly recognizes the link between schoolyard bullying and psychological harassment in the workplace. Adult bullies are merely continuing with the behaviour that has been their forte since their school days.

The Campaign Against Workplace Bullying estimates one in six North American workers has experienced on-the-job bullying from bosses or co-workers. HR departments looking to stamp out this unproductive and morally unacceptable behaviour have launched zero-tolerance policies, as well as training programs to educate staff about the necessity for the respect for others in the workplace.

HR’s efforts in this area must be combined with action in schools, where the problem begins, if this societal concern is to be adequately addressed. It means making a difference in your own backyard by challenging school authorities who take a lacklustre approach to protecting children.

Today’s schoolyard bullies, are the taunters, teasers and harassers of tomorrow’s workforce. We may have better luck changing the mindset of a six-year-old bully than that of a 40-year-old worker with decades of psychological violence under his belt.

So how can an employer, parent or concerned citizen play a role in confronting bullying? Two useful Web sites offering information and support are the Campaign Against Workplace Bullying,, and, a site focused on school bullying.

To read the full story, login below.

Not a subscriber?

Start your subscription today!