Bullying at the University of Newcastle (Australia)

We are working to highlight and stop academic workplace bullying at the University of Newcastle, Australia. We are a group of staff and students who have been bullied for speaking out about misconduct.

Help make a difference –

*answer our survey,

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*contact us.

This will help us gather as much information as possible so that we can put an end to this bullying with its’ decades-long history.

“Systemic bullying, hazing and abuse generally are identified with poor, weak or toxic organizational cultures. Cultures that are toxic have stated ethical values that are espoused but not employed, and other non-ethical values which are operational, dominant, but unstated.

Such cultures thrive when good people are silent, silenced, or pushed out; when bad apples are vocal, retained, promoted, and empowered; and when the neutral majority remain silent in order to survive. Those who are most successful in such a toxic culture are those who have adapted to it, or adopted it as their own”. (McKay, Arnold, Fratzl & Thomas, 2008)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The "Psychology of Evil"

Remember the Stanford prison experiments?

"when playing the role of guards, ordinary non-sadistic people became increasingly aggressive, were arbitrary in their punishments, and exhibited pleasure at the humiliation of their "prisoners." The more they dehumanized these prisoners, acted under the cloak of anonymity, and realized there would be no accountability for their abuses, the more their aggression escalated." (emphasis added).

"Even among those guards who initially resisted the aggression, all eventually rationalized their decision to join ranks with authoritarian guards, and all soon rationalized their behavior as legitimate due to the behavior of the one being punished -- even when the one being punished had clearly done nothing wrong and the punishment was by any standard a violation of human decency. Perhaps most disturbing of all, no matter how great and arbitrary the cruelty became, none of those who inflicted the brutality expressed any remorse when they returned home and were free of the artificial "prison" in which they'd acted with impunity. By having legitimated their actions as necessary and brought on by the target, through a process of cognitive dissonance the "guards" had come to believe they acted morally and appropriately. " (emphasis added).

Janice Harper has applied Zimbardo's findings to workplace bullying and states that "we can readily see how rapidly an entire workforce can be swept into the maelstrom of aggression when someone in a position of leadership marks a worker for elimination."

The slippery slope towards mobbing or bullying can start with something simple e.g. " retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, discrimination or unlawful behavior."

Many of us have experienced this type of group behaviour at the University of Newcastle - a culture of bullying and coverup seems to prevail.

Harper recommends that the focus should shift from the bullies, "to a focus on the institutional context that ignites group bullying or mobbing in the workplace".  She states that this may result in "more effective workplace policies and practices".

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