Stop Bullying Petition Submitted to Legislature

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Tue, 12/04/2012 - 17:47

bullied woman

The Stop Bullying Committee has submitted A petition to stop bullying of elders and people living with disabilities in subsidized apartments to the Massachusetts legislature. We seek your interest and support to enable passage of effective legislation.

The petition with supporting materials was prepared by Jerry Halberstadt. The “Stop Bullying Elders” committee is led by Bonny Zeh of Somerville and Jerry Halberstadt of Peabody. The full document is available on request. The petition and some early statements of support follow:

A petition to stop bullying

A petition to stop the bullying of residents of multi-family residences, with attention to elders and persons living with disabilities residing in subsidized housing. Residents should be safe and secure in their homes, free of harassment and bullying (including by other residents, staff, or management) in their apartment buildings. We ask the legislature to provide comprehensive remedies and prevention, to support research into the causes and remedies, and to support innovative demonstration programs, as well as assuring relief and enforcement to protect residents.

The Commonwealth has an interest in protecting the well-being of all citizens, including those living in subsidized multi-family buildings and therefore should be expected to oversee and assure that public funds allocated to provide safe and secure housing (from federal, state, or local sources) are used to prevent injury resulting from bullying.

Engage all in the community: education, training, action

To make the management responsible for implementing and enforcing an evidence-based policy against bullying; to create and enforce training standards for management and staff; to inform, educate, and involve all residents; to clarify the responsibilities of management (including landlords) to assure a safe and secure environment; to provide means of enforcement and other incentives for management to have and implement an appropriate policy with the goal of maintaining a community environment free of bullying.

Research and intervention programs

To promote and support programs of research, intervention, training, and education to develop, evaluate, and promulgate effective methods and best practices in order to avoid and correct bullying. To clarify and support the ability of agencies to intervene in the name of preventing elder abuse.

Assuring protection and relief

To enable an aggrieved resident to find easy access to effective enforcement; and to create a consumer-oriented ombudsman with appropriate powers to investigate, intervene, and provide rapid remedy.

To provide access to legal relief to those who have been harmed by bullying.


“I applaud the work you and your group are doing with this—it's very important to get this type of legislation in place. Many older people that have contacted me and my colleagues feel like they are powerless to improve their situations. Furthermore, some senior housing managers have made comments to me that basically state [that] addressing negative resident behaviors is the residents' problem, not management's problem. My colleagues and I recommend that management have an anti-bullying policy. Your proposed legislation would create a mandate for change and that's good!”—Robin P. Bonifas, PhD, MSW; John A. Hartford Faculty Scholar in Geriatric Social Work; Assistant Professor, School of Social Work; College of Public Programs, Arizona State University

“NERSC supports bullying awareness and will continue to educate on the subject of bullying in housing.”—Statement of the Board, New England Resident Service Coordinators

“For me as a tenant advocate and president of a tenants' association in city public housing, I fully believe we need legislation to help with abating the abuse that goes on either tenant on tenant, or housing authority and its staff on tenants. While some of the abuse is overt, a lot perpetrated on tenants is covert. I have experienced both situations and it needs to stop. I receive letters from tenants on a weekly basis reporting such incidents and I spend many hours negotiating settlements, between residents or between residents and the housing authority. I endorse A Petition to Stop Bullying Of Elders and People Living with Handicaps In Multi-family Housing. It would benefit me and the families living in the 715 units that I represent.”—Kathleen Burke. President of Salem Housing Tenants' Association; Board Member, Salem Affordable Housing Trust; Vice President, Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants.

The full document is available on request.