Monthly Archives: June 2016

Animal Study Finds a Brain Circuit That Spurs Bullying

MouseBullies often like being bullies—and an entire line of research links aggressive behaviors to brain areas tied to sensations of reward—sites deep below the organ’s surface with names like the ventromedial hypothalamus and the extended amygdala.

One lingering puzzle is what precedes the aggressive act. What makes a person—or, in this case, a mouse—lash out? A new study, published June 29 in Nature, shows that the thought of being the aggressor simply feels good to certain animals. I had a fascinating talk this week with Scott Russo from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the paper’s senior author, who described the significance of these findings.

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LGBTQ youth face higher online risks

The Internet has proven to be a revolutionary tool that has changed the world – and like many such innovations before it, it’s mostly a blessing, but a little bit of a curse. While the instant communication that the Internet provides has spread access to information globally and helped disenfranchised groups to build and engage their communities, it also provides the means and opportunity for these same vulnerable populations to be harassed and exploited. Whether affecting women, youth, the elderly, or the LGBTQ community, the Internet (and mobile apps) provide a wealth of educational and social resources, but these groups also face higher than average rates of cyberbullying, online exploitation, and abuse.

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Op-ed: Utah law helps employees demand an end to workplace bullying

One year ago, a new set of requirements went into effect for state agencies. Those rules were directed at helping employees cope with workplace bullies and were promoted by advocate Denise Halverson as part of a nationwide effort by an information resource website, the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI).

House Bill 216, titled the Healthy Workplace Bill was introduced in 2015 by Orem Rep. Keven Stratton and quietly went into effect on July 1, 2015. The law establishes training for state workers that defines the types of abusive behaviors, which when directed by one or more employees of an organization toward a targeted worker can result in damaging psychological as well as physical effects. According to WBI sponsored studies from 2014, those effects result in the targeted employees leaving their jobs 61 percent of the time to get away from the abuse.

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A Follow-Up Discussion on Workplace Bullying #SHRM16

As part of my blogging team coverage of the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition, several weeks ago I conducted a Q&A with Catherine Mattice, one of the conference’s concurrent speakers.  The post served as a preview of her session, titled “The Real World: Case Studies of Real Organizations Who Solved Their Workplace Bullying Problems” and gave us some insight into her thoughts on the reality of workplace bullying.  You can read that initial Q&A post here.

So naturally at the conference I took the opportunity to attend her session.  What was immediately apparent to me is just how passionate Catherine is about this topic.  This wasn’t something she was presenting on because it’s trendy or simply a hot topic amongst HR pros right now, she really, truly believes that not only is this a very real issue, but it’s one that can be solved.  Her enthusiasm for the topic came across in our Q&A, but once I had the opportunity to see her actually speak on the topic, and how she at times spoke on the brink of emotion, it became very obvious that this is something she is dedicated to educating, addressing, and alleviating in our workplaces. (One point to note: Catherine herself was at one time the victim of a workplace bully, and that is what initially sparked her desire to start talking about it).

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Sixth Circuit panel rules that Ohio district could not be held liable for the sexual assault of a baseball player by his teammates because the plaintiff failed to establish municipal liability on the part of the district

Abstract: A U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit three-judge panel has ruled that an Ohio school district could not be held liable for the sexual assault of a member of the high school baseball team by his teammates. The panel concluded that even if the victim had established a state-created danger giving rise to a substantive due process violation, he had failed to establish municipal liability, under Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658 ( 1978), on the part of the school board.

Facts/Issues: K.R. was a freshman at Wayne High School (WHS). As a prospective member of the baseball team, he participated in regular voluntary workouts at the school gym. During one of the workouts, K.R. became involved in an argument with a teammate. Shortly after, Assistant Coach Jonathan Soukup asked B.C., another member of the team, about the incident.

K.R. claims Soukup told B.C. to “take care of it.” Soukup denies the allegation. K.R. was subsequently sexually assaulted by B.C. and three other teammates, including R.M. Later that evening K.R. informed his parents of the assault.

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First Circuit panel rules that mother of student who was subjected to peer harassment/bullying failed to establish valid substantive due process and Title IX claims

Abstract: A U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit three-judge panel has ruled that a student, who was subjected to peer harassment and bullying, failed to state a valid cause of action for violation of his Fourteenth Amendment Substantive Due Process rights because there was an absence of any action by school officials that “shocks the conscience.” It also rejected the student’s argument that school officials had an affirmative duty to protect the student based on the theory of state-created danger.

In addition, the panel rejected the student’s attempt to amend his legal complaint to include a claim under Title IX. It found that the Title IX claim of harassment/bullying was not based on the student’s sex or gender.

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Dietrich High athletes raped black, mentally disabled teammate, lawsuit claims (ID)

When a teammate held out his arms after football practice in their high school locker-room, the boy thought he was about to get a hug.

Instead, he got viciously raped, authorities say.

As the teammate restrained the boy, another football player allegedly thrust a coat hanger into the boy’s rectum. Then a third teammate kicked the coat hanger several times, according to a criminal complaint.

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Federal jury rules for Munster school officials in hazing lawsuit (IN)

HAMMOND — A federal jury Tuesday ruled in favor of Munster school officials in a civil lawsuit that had accused them of allowing a culture of hazing within the high school boys swim team.

A former student, Joseph Hunt, sued Munster High School swim coach Matthew Pavlovich, former athletic director Michael Smith, former principal Steven L. Tripenfeldas and then-Superintendent William Pfister.

In the lawsuit, Hunt outlined how he was hazed in 2009 and 2010 while he was a member of the MHS boys swim team.

Hunt claimed the hazing incidents equated to gender discrimination, because school officials allowed the culture of hazing for the boys swim team, but they did not allow the same incidents to occur in the girls swim team.

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Police officer’s post-termination hearing draws crowd (NM)

(Editor’s Note:  I applaud the village of Ruidoso for having a workplace bullying policy.  Unfortunately, however, the authorities don’t seem to know what bullying is.  There is no evidence of abusive behavior, repeated abuse, or an imbalance of power.  This case seems based on careless, juvenile, verbal outbursts — which is not bullying.  And, in my experience, the kind of language cited in the article is not unheard of among law enforcement personnel speaking privately.  The lesson here is watch what you say, and for goodness sake, don’t say it on tape!  — Mike Tully)

Wearing T-shirts with the logo, “He defines the badge,” about 35 supporters of Wade Proctor, who is fighting his termination from the Ruidoso Police Department, filed into the village council chambers Tuesday for a hearing that could overturn or uphold the action.

At issue is whether a statement by Proctor captured on a recording constituted a violation of village policies against workplace violence, workplace bullying and the code of conduct, and if termination was the appropriate action or if a lesser punishment was warranted.

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Geelong court: Builder Wayne Dennert pleads guilty after apprentice suffers (AU)

(Editor’s Note:  This is by far the most egregious example of workplace bullying I have read about in a very long.  This apparently only refers to a civil proceeding, but I would expect that this behavior was also addressed as a crime, perhaps under Victoria’s “stalking” criminal statutes, which include workplace bullying.  — Mike Tully)

A  GEELONG teen apprentice suffered having hot drill bits held on his skin, his face sandpapered, a metho-doused rag held over his mouth and was pinned down and painted during two years of torment inflicted and encouraged by his bully boss.

Wayne Dennert, owner of Quality Carpentry and Building Maintenance — now Dennert Builders — has admitted taking an apprentice’s phone and posting a sexually explicit comment on a female friend’s Facebook page and encouraging an employee to put a live mouse down the apprentice’s shirt, spit on him and put liquid nails in his hair.

Dennert also belittled the apprentice, who began working for him at 16, asking him “we’re you touched as a child … is that why you’re so f—ed up”.

A year on, the apprentice told the court he still barely slept replaying the trauma.

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