Cyber bullying ‘blights 
lives of workers too’

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CYBER BULLYING through emails, text and posts on internet websites is not only a problem in schools but also blights the lives of adults in the workplace, according to new research.

Occupational psychologists from Sheffield University say cyber bullying at work is more difficult to uncover than mainstream bullying and will become more important as communication technologies evolve.

Their results will be revealed during the Economic and Social Research Council’s annual Festival of Social Science in the Showroom Workstation in Sheffield tomorrow.

The study included three separate surveys among employees in several UK universities.

Survey respondents were given a list of what can be classed as bullying, such as being humiliated, ignored or gossiped about, and were asked if they had faced such behaviour online and how often.

Of the 320 people who responded to the survey, around eight out of 10 had experienced cyber bullying at least once in the previous six months. Between 14 and 20 per cent of people had experienced it at least once a week.

Researcher Carolyn Axtell, from Sheffield University, said: “Our research showed that cyber bullying has a stronger negative impact on employee mental strain and job satisfaction than traditional, face- to-face bullying does.”

The research team also found that the impact of witnessing cyber bullying was different than that seen for conventional bullying.

“In more traditional, face-to-face bullying, seeing someone else being bullied also has a negative impact on the well-being of the witness,” said colleague Christine Sprigg.

“However, we didn’t find the same negative effect for those who said they had witnessed others being cyber bullied.”