We start from the principle that harassment/bullying is harmful and must not be tolerated. We advocate for research, education, and the means to provide protection through intervention and enforcement. Action is necessary and justified because bullying is harmful and because no one deserves to be bullied.
New research has confirmed the harmful impact of bullying on physical and emotional health among the 24% of independent-living seniors who are bullied. Seniors and professionals report the lack of effective ways to stop bullying. Therefore, urgent action to stop bullying is needed.
Research shows impact of bullying on health
According to a research psychologist, Madeline Rex-Lear, based on theoretical models and studies of younger people, The stress associated with being bullied is thought to lead to a series of biological, behavioral, and psychological changes, which produce a variety of health problems "To find out what actually happens to elders who are bullied, Rex-Lear studied the impact of bullying on well-being in 111 elders aged from 60 to 99 years. They lived in a variety of independent living situations including their own homes in the community, retirement communities, and group retirement apartments. Nearly a quarter of the subjects, 24%, reported being frequent targets of bullying.
In this ground-breaking study of elderly people, Rex-Lear measured "victimization" (being the target of bullying/aggression), social support, and physical and psychological problems. She found that people who experienced higher levels of bullying did indeed show more physical and/or emotional problems. For example, she reports current victimization[being bullied] was also associated with current psychological problems in senior adults. In particular, being bullied was associated with being anxious/depressed, worrying more frequently, and being more irritable/disorganized.—p48 Rex-Lear, Madeline, 2011 Not Just A Playground Issue: Bullying Among Older Adults; doctoral thesis, The University of Texas at Arlington http://dspace.uta.edu/handle/10106/6207
Seniors are powerless to stop bullying, need new tools
Reports received from individuals all over the nation, and from a respected social work professional confirm that people are helpless to stop bullying—they have no where to turn for help. Management should be made accountable.
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.
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
What our petition seeks
A Petition to Stop Bullying of Elders and People Living with Handicaps in Multi-family Housing.
- A requirement for landlords and management to have and enforce policies on bullying; to involve tenants in the ongoing efforts; to provide access for tenants to an ombudsman, access to the courts, and assure mechanisms of external oversight and enforcement.
- Support for education including the development and evaluation of materials and methods and support for dissemination through all media—print, online, and by qualified trainers.
- Support for research into the causes and conditions leading to bullying, evaluation of remedial methods, and development and demonstration programs to create effective interventions.
We ask for your support.
The Stop Bullying Committee
Everyone can help free people from bullying
Our plan: educate and enlist Beacon Hill lawmakers
We need the help of all citizens living in subsidized housing in the Commonwealth to identify trouble spots, housing which is free of bullying that can serve as models, and to witness and advocate. Wherever you live, you can advocate for change in HUD policies through your elected federal officials.