This was brought to light recently when a news anchor was sent a letter from a viewer who criticized her for her weight, and said that she was a bad influence to girls in her viewership because of it. This newscaster took the painful experience as an opportunity to raise awareness and provide a healthy example of addressing bullying head-on. (You can see a clip of her powerful speech here.) We may not always realize that adults can be bullied, but this type of thing can and does happen all too often, and with quite negative consequences on employees' health and productivity, which affects the companies they work for as well.
One study found that, of 361 workers polled, 39% reported being bullied in at least one form on a monthly basis, and 18% said that they experienced some form of bullying on a weekly basis. This bullying led to increased absenteeism and had a negative effect on workers' health and well-being. Others have suggested that prolonged or severe bullying can lead to PTSD in some victims. Clearly, bullying is a painful and detrimental experience for children and adults.
If you are exposed to bullying in the workplace, it is important to talk to your supervisor, visit your human resources department, or utilize whatever channels you can. You should not have to put up with a hostile work environment, and it is better for you and your company if this type of behavior is stopped.
As for protecting our children from the harmful effects of bullying, most schools now have anti-bullying policies in place, and many of them have anti-bullying programs as well. Bullying, however, may still occur. It is important to talk to our children and advocate for them to be sure that they don't experience a hostile environment at school.
All too often, bullying goes unchecked and people get hurt. However, there are sometimes happy endings to sad stories. One such ending occurred recently when a teen was bullied in a situation straight out of a horror movie--Carrie, to be exact. The teens in a small town high school voted an unpopular girl Homecoming Queen as a joke, which hurt and embarrassed the girl. When people found out, the whole town and many people across the country rallied around the girl. (You can read about it here.) What could have been a scarring experience turned into a heartwarming one because people got involved, and people cared.
About.com has a site devoted to understanding and managing the effects of bullying. Visit bullying.about.com for more information and remember, nobody should have to put up with the stress of being bullied, nor should they have to sit by and watch it happen to themselves or someone else.
Source: Dehue, Francine; Bolman, Catherine; Völlink, Trijntje; and Pouwelse, Mieneke. (Aug, 2012.) Coping with bullying at work and health related problems. International Journal of Stress Management, Vol 19(3), pp. 175-197