The BBC ran a radio documentary programme in 1990. In this programme Andrea Adams (a freelance journalist) introduced the topic and played taped interviews of people talking about their negative experiences at work. Despite the fact that the programme was broadcast during the evening which is not a peak listening time, it provoked a strong response from the public. Andrea Adams continued her work on the topic. She wrote an excellent book for targets of bullying which was published in 1992. Whilst the media has played an extremely important role in heightening awareness, a less positive role can be given to the management training community and its allied organisations. Mainstream management texts rarely contain any reference to bullying at work, and certainly are scant of suggestions as to what to do about it. In most countries there is no law against harassment, even though seemingly legal claims under race and gender legislation can have bullying at their base. Research reveals that UK laws at least are being stretched to embrace bullying (Earnshaw and Cooper 1996), but this strategy is particularly difficult for white men to follow as they fall outside the discrimination laws. International law may alter this as trading blocks include a social element which includes employee rights. As such, the issue normally remains limited to our workplaces and the media, whilst government and the legal profession have yet to deal totally with it.
In common with racial and sexual harassment, definitions of workplace bullying extend to the reaction of the person receiving the behaviours. Effectively this takes matters outside the control of the person who does not want to be 'accused' of bullying. Most definitions would include the targets of the behaviour reacting negatively to the behaviour they have experienced. There are various factors around this issue; the nature of the negative reaction, the extent of reaction, and the harshness of the effects of the reaction (for example feeling highly goaded or very terrified). While this is a very wide spectrum of possible response, from being very distressed by the actions of others through to a full collapse, it is all negative in nature and effect.
In order to arouse action to deal with bullying at work, it is necessary to have a patent idea of the scale of the problem. This chapter reports the latest findings on the occurrence of bullying in Britain. It will become clear that bullying is a very important workplace problem affecting a large number of people. This is mostly the case when we widen our perspective to include those who are affected indirectly, such as the bystanders of bullying incidents. Particular industries and occupations that seem to be 'high-risk areas' for bullying will be identified in this chapter. We will also observe how factors such as gender, age, and ethnicity might have an impact on the experience of bullying. Do people who are of a certain age, for example, get bullied more, or less Do managers get bullied more than front-line