The Bully-Free Workplaces: Shifting Culture program offers a 2 hour information session designed to help heighten awareness to bullying. It explores physical and psychological health effects of bullying on individuals, including witnesses and bystanders. It also provides an introduction to possible solutions.
Many people will initially wonder what a karate club and a bully-free program could possibly have in common. Surprisingly, the answer is a lot.
"Bullying behaviors are behind all forms of harassment, discrimination, prejudice, abuse, persecution, terrorism, conflict and violence."
Countless stories have been related on how people were bullied as children or adults and how they joined karate with the hope of learning how to defend themselves. Childhood bullying may have included physical as well as mental abuse, but adult bullying can be more insidious and psychological in many ways. There's an unfortunate misconception that children will grow out of bullying as they mature into adults. Many times however child bullies become adult bullies and enter the workforce where they continue to inflict emotional harm on their peers or subordinates.
How does this relate to karate? Many clubs market self defense as a benefit to the members who sign up to take classes. What they don't often tell you is that physical self defense plays an extremely small aspect of real world self defense. To fully defend yourself you also need to know how to emotionally defend yourself as well.
"Bullying remains the single most important social issue of today."
~ Workplace Bullying Institute
In karate there are set of five guiding principles called the dojo-kun. One of these principles is to "Refrain from violent behavior". Many people automatically only consider this to mean physical violence. Violence is not just physical, but can be emotional as well. The practice of karate helps train us to protect ourselves physically, but what about emotionally? A program that helps identify and stop bullying is a step towards protecting ourselves psychologically as well....not just ourselves, but also our peers, friends and family.
The Bully-Free Workplaces: Shifting Culture program developed by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), aligns with the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, and was designed to start addressing the problem of workplace bullying. The hope is that bullying will someday become as unacceptable in society as physically assaulting someone, drinking and driving, or smoking in the workplace.
According to a 2014 Workplace Bullying Institute Survey, employers responses to workplace bullying are as follows:
- Deny +25% (It doesn't happen here, fail to investigate complaints)
- Discount = 16% (Describe impact as not serious)
- Rationalize = 15% (It's an innocent, routine way of doing business)
- Defend = 11% (Most likely when offenders are executives and managers)
- Encourage = 5% (Necessary for a competitive organization)
- Eliminate bullying = 12% (Create and enforce procedures)
- Acknowledge = 10% ( Show concern for affected worker)
- Condemn = 6% (Exercise zero tolerance.) - Doesn't work, behavior goes underground
Homburg Centre for Health & Wellness
Saint Marys University