Bullying is a global problem. Whether it takes place in the schoolyard; the board room; the corridors of academe; a detention centre for alleged terrorists; a government office, or cyber space; and whether it involves insult, physical assault or manipulation of the environment with the intention of making another person’s life intolerable, bullying involves the abuse of power. Everyone is affected by it, whether directly or indirectly.
All of us know people who are bullied, and all of us know bullies, though we may be unaware that we do. After all, bullies may seem, on the surface, to be kind, caring and supportive human beings, interested in nurturing others. And if they have been kind to us, we may fail to perceive their unkindness to others.
Bullying goes on at every level, often goes on behind closed doors; inside private emails, and in actions that might appear innocuous. It grows out of the ability that many (and perhaps most) people have, to find enjoyment and fulfilment in exerting power over others. It depends for its existence either on a lack of empathy and human feeling, or on the developed ability to suspend empathy. It can ruin lives, and it can end lives. We should not allow ourselves to believe that because it is not open to view, bullying is not present.
In the first two years of Bullying and the abuse of power, a number of themes have emrged. Two of these – bullying in schools and bullying in the workplace (including universities) are unsurprising and have featured strongly in both earlier conferences. Alongside these, and other themes with a practical focus, such as cyber bullying, participants have wrestled with the problem of saying exactly what is to count as bullying, and how far its boundaries extend.
Abstracts are now invited for Bullying and the Abuse of Power 3, for individual contributions or for symposia of three papers. Abstracts that illuminate and comment on more than one sphere in which bullying manifests itself, are especially welcomed, as are abstracts that draw together insights from more than one academic, professional or vocational area, or that draw from more than one cultural or theoretical perspective. Abstracts are also especially welcomed that focus on bullying in areas where the abuse of power is less commonly thought of in this way, including the ill treatment of elders; genocide; human trafficking, and bullying in international relations and international trade.