Teen Workplace Bullying

Teen workplace bullying may be more common than you think. Recent news has brought school violence, cyberbullying, school bullying, and teen violence to the forefront. But you rarely hear of the teen workplace bullying that occurs on a regular basis.

What Is Workplace Bullying and Why Might Teens Be Potential Targets?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that each year, 2,000,000 Americans suffer from some kind of workplace violence. One of the forms that workplace violence takes is bullying, which is experienced by one in six employees, including teen workers.

Teens may be more susceptible to workplace bullying because they are generally among the newest and youngest and least experienced employees, eager to do well and keep their jobs. Wanting to stay employed and please their superiors as well as being inexperienced in how businesses are supposed to be run are also reasons that teens may fail to report bullying, in fact, a naive teen may not even recognize certain types of treatment as bullying.

Because teens are usually not in a position of power in the workplace, it is less often a place in which teens have an opportunity to bully others. Unlike school, which students must attend by law, there is not a law saying that an employer must keep a trouble-making and abusive employee, so a bullying teen employee might not last very long.

There may be exceptions when, for example, most of the workers are teens, as at a summer camp, or when the younger workers leave the office to carry out their duties, for example, if teens work for a company doing painting or yard work at various premises around town. In this case, a teen bully would be more likely to target other teens than adults.

What Forms Can Workplace Bullying Take?

Workplace bullying can take a number of forms. These include:

  • verbal abuse. An employee should not have to hear raised voices, recriminations, name-calling, or any other time of verbal mistreatment. Even if it is not only aimed at the one employee, it's still bullying - a bully can bully an entire department or company.
  • blame. An employee must take responsibility for his or her area of work, but should not become a department scapegoat.
  • intentional embarrassment. If an employee makes a mistake or commits a faux pas, it can be handled quietly and privately. Public embarrassment or humiliation is uncalled for.
  • exclusion from activities. When a new employee comes on board, he or she may be a newcomer in a close-knit group that meets outside of work as well as in business-related settings. While the newbie should understand that he or she may not be invited to events outside of work, within the workplace, an employee should not suffer from exclusion.
  • damage to property or self. An employee's vehicle, workplace, work, and person should be safe and treated with respect.

Sexual harassment should not happen either, but it is treated as separate from bullying due to the way the law is structured.





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