by Janice Harper - Originally posted in 2011
One of the least discussed aspects of bullying and mobbing, and perhaps the most powerful and damaging, is the practice of shunning. Shunning is widely practiced among certain religions; the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Church of Scientology, even the otherwise forgiving Amish have made shunning a religious tenet to control the conduct of its members. Families routinely shun other family members, whether through disinheritance and outright withdrawal of any contact or support, or the deafening "silent treatment" that some spouses and parents engage in as a form of punishment for real or perceived offenses. People are shunned in their communities, their clubs and their schools. But perhaps shunning is most common in the workplace, when a worker is targeted for collective aggression and elimination, or "workplace mobbing."
When a person is marked for punishment or elimination by management, workers instinctively avoid being seen with that person for fear of their own status being tarnished in the workplace. But to targets of shunning, the near instantaneous isolation almost always comes as a shock, and the intensifying silence that encircles them is indeed deadly. The impact of shunning is so severe that those religions, organizations and families which routinely employ it do so because they know just how effective a form of social control the practice can be, debilitating even the strongest people once it commences.