Toolkit to prevent workplace bullying

People with an intellectual disability who are bullied in the workplace are often afraid to report it to bosses, say experts at the Anti-Bullying Centre in Trinity College Dublin.

Claire Healy, research assistant at the centre yesterday outlined some aspects of a new anti-bullying toolkit at the Supported Employment Conference in Croke Park ahead of its official launch in September.

Ms Healy said information from focus groups showed that employers were often nervous about bullying of staff with intellectual disabilities and how they should handle it.

She said the bullying was verbal in most cases, and the bullies were often work colleagues who also have an intellectual disability.

“The took kit is to help people to recognise bullying and to deal with it,” said Ms Healy. “Our focus groups showed there is a huge fear around reporting bullying — they really feel they are not going to be believed.”

She said in many cases the victim of bullying will inform a supervisor or manager about someone “being mean to them” rather than giving specifics.

The took kit outlines prevention and intervention rights, highlights how people should handle bullying incidents, and gives training tips for employers.

“They know it [bullying] impacts on productivity,” Ms Healy said of employers, “but they do not know how to handle it. They are crying out for training.”

As to reasons why workers with an intellectual disability would bully others, she said in some cases the relationship might extend beyond the workplace to shared transport accommodation, or leisure, meaning too much time spent together without respite.

* The toolkit will be available at www.letmebeme.eu.

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