How to Stop a Rape in the Workplace
The most common argument against changing workplace safety policies is that they’ll increase workplace violence.
But the evidence isn’t so strong.
According to a survey of nearly 10,000 people conducted by the Violence Policy Center (VPC), only a tiny percentage of employees who work in the workplace have been assaulted in the past year.
And most of the time, it’s not workplace violence but workplace misbehavior, including verbal harassment, threats of violence, and sexual harassment.
What we’re talking about here is not workplace aggression, but workplace aggression by a stranger who wants to take advantage of someone’s vulnerability.
The VPC says that only a minority of workplace victims report physical violence at work, and most of those are people who are victims of stalking, harassment, sexual assault, and other forms of workplace harassment.
And while that may seem like a low percentage of workplace violence, the VPC said that it’s still a high percentage, and it’s a higher percentage than what’s reported to authorities.
“There’s really no evidence that this kind of behavior increases workplace violence,” said the VLC’s Jessica Stern.
“It’s hard to measure it and not get carried away.”
What’s more, the numbers don’t support the idea that workplace violence will increase as a result of the changes.
The vast majority of workplace-related violence is workplace misbehaviors.
“What’s really happening in the workplaces is people who have experienced harassment or abuse are not coming forward,” said Stern.
And the vast majority–if not all–of those who have reported workplace violence are women.
Stern said that while many of the workplace harassment and assault allegations she’s read about involve women, she also read of instances where men were targeted and abused as well.
“I don’t think we can assume that the male perpetrators will necessarily be more likely to report it,” she said.
For example, in one study of a group of male college students, only one in five reported workplace sexual harassment to their instructors or the university.
But that same group of men also reported receiving verbal, physical, or sexual harassment, according to a study by a University of Pennsylvania psychologist.
“We can’t say that’s because men are more likely, but it’s definitely a possibility,” Stern said.
And while Stern said she’s not sure whether the workplace violence that’s occurring now will affect workplace safety in the future, she said it’s important to remember that it already has, and will continue to affect workplaces for years to come.
“In the meantime, we need to keep working on preventing workplace violence so that we don’t have this sort of problem again,” she told The New York Times.
“And it’s really hard to say what the impact of the current laws will be.
But we’re not there yet.
And we’re really working on that.”