By Kim Sanchez, director, Trustworthy Computing Online Safety

“The End of Bullying Begins with Me.”  That’s the message during National Bullying Prevention month this October. An organization called PACER started the anti-bullying campaign in 2006 to bring awareness to bullying prevention efforts.  Bullying commonly thought of as a “rite of passage,” for children has long term consequences.  Children who are bullied are likely to experience depression, anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.  These issues may persist into adulthood. 

It’s hard to know if childhood bullies grow up to be bullies in the workplace as we typically think of bullying as something school-aged kids experience.  However, a recent survey from Career Builder indicates that workplace bullying is on the rise.  The survey found thirty-five percent of workers said they have felt bullied at work, up from 27 percent last year.  Sixteen percent of these workers reported they suffered health-related problems as a result of bullying and 17 percent decided to quit their jobs to escape the situation.  The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from May 14 to June 4, 2012 and included more than 3,800 workers nationwide.

Who are the bullies?  Of workers who felt bullied, most pointed to incidents with their bosses (48 percent) or coworkers (45 percent), while 31 percent have been picked on by customers, and 26 percent by someone higher up in the company other than their boss.

More than half (54 percent) of those bullied said they were bullied by someone older than they were, while 29 percent said the bully was younger.

Workplace Bullies may blame others for mistakes, they might use different principles and polices towards one worker versus another. They may ignore, criticize, yell or make belittling comments directed at their target in front of others.  The definition of bullying is the repeated behavior mean to tease, demean, or harass someone.  That applies to when it happens to children, or adults.

At Microsoft, we work with advocates, industry partners, governments and law enforcement on helping prevent bullying of all kinds.    

Research shows that promoting empathy and kindness can be a powerful way to help stop bullying.  Each of us has the power to control how we behave and treat others, so let’s opt for kindness and respect, not only this month but always.