Bullying laws must protect everyone

When it comes to workplace violence and aggression, we need to protect everyone and not just people with special circumstances.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m a bonafide liberal in favor of special protections for special circumstances. The civil rights legislation continues to be important. As does all the equality legislation, and disability rights legislation. You get the idea.

The problem is that workplace aggression and violence isn’t against the law, unless it is against a protected group or because of someone’s membership is a protected group.

And that’s a problem. Because the pattern of violence is the same whether it is domestic violence, school yard bullying or workplace aggression. And, everyone should be protected against violence. You shouldn’t have to belong to a special class of people just have legal protection against violence.

Yet – only people who have civil rights protections are protected from this sort of abuse – 80% have no protection at all. This is true whether you are in the workplace or in the school yard. Schools have no legal responsibility to protect kids from school violence unless those kids are in a protected class. The same goes for workplace violence and aggression in the form of bullying. Businesses are not required to protect employees from workplace aggression either.

The Workplace Bullying Institute is looking to change that by enacting workplace bullying laws around the country. See their press conference about this here:


Their call to action is that we need to stop cherry picking who we protect. We need to protect everyone. Until we understand that all these behaviors are related, we will continue to attempt a piecemeal approach to solving the problem.

When you look at protected groups (gender, age, disability, race, ethnicity, religion and sex, you see the same list of things that people are bullied about. Why, because these are things we can’t change about ourselves. 95% of verbal bullying is about these protected topics. The problem isn’t just that certain groups are vulnerable to abuse. It’s that people who abuse go after people they think are vulnerable. But you don’t have to be in a protected class to be vulnerable. It also turns out that not being judged attractive is reason enough to be targeted.

We need to realize that in order to protect special classes of people we need to protect everyone. When anyone is able to seek redress for workplace or school aggression, everyone in that school or workplace benefits. Because bullying is not done by everyone. It’s a limited number of people who engage in such behavior. Anyone who steps forward to eliminate them does everyone else a favor.

So, when it comes to violence and aggression, let’s treat everyone the same. Protect everyone and stop allowing bullies to get away with it just because their chosen target doesn’t fit the stereotype of who is considered vulnerable.


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