Reporter spotlights bullying in Attleboro, MA.

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Wed, 05/15/2013 - 15:15

The front page story, by Rick Foster, is headlined: Bullying at any age: Experts say aggression by seniors against other seniors is a growing problem—and it's being felt in Attleboro Foster details specific instances of bullying in Attleboro senior housing.

The Sun Chronicle editorial rightly credits residents for their courage in speaking out:

Thanks to some courageous individuals who complained about a hostile environment in housing projects in Attleboro and have been willing to speak out publicly, the problem of senior bullying has a higher profile locally.

But as today's front page story shows, the problem exists everywhere. Experts in aging say 10 to 20 percent of tenants in senior housing suffer harassment, ranging from name-calling, malicious gossip and exclusion all the way to intimidation and threats.

Residents of subsidized housing in Attleboro, MA. are plagued by bullying, according to allegations by both elderly residents and people living with disability. Bullying has been reported in housing managed by the Attleboro Housing Authority as well as at Gardner Terrace, a privately owned building that receives rent subsidies from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These reports are confirmed by community leaders and social service workers including June Fleischman, whose work for the city health department brings her into contact with situations of bullying or abuse. Members of the Attleboro Human Rights Commission have confirmed the conflicts and bullying in subsidized buildings in Attleboro.

Rick Foster reports that Rabbi Carol Bruckner Mitchell estimates 10 percent to 20 percent of all tenants in senior residences have suffered from bullying.

While the main focus of the well-researched story by Foster is on bullying of elders on elders, the situation at Gardner Terrace involved allegations of harassment of people with disabilities by seniors. At the same time, we have learned that seniors had accused the younger disabled residents of harassment.

One of the younger residents of Gardner Terrace who had complained of being harassed has been evicted.

The Sun Chronicle supports S604, An act to protect citizens from bullying as a helpful step. The editorial also urges continued vigilance and advocacy by tenants, relatives, and friends; and suggest that housing authorities can act to initiate change even without legislation.

Our efforts to create awareness of bullying in subsidized buildings receive a boost from this story. The legislation (S604) which we are promoting can provide a framework and means for change, but it is only by creating community awareness can we can finally eliminate this problem. Stories about local situations are essential to help mobilize sentiment for change. The Sun Chronicle has aimed a spotlight at bullying, hiding in the shadows.


"Bullying at any age" published Monday,13 May; online access by subscription at…

"Editorial" published Monday,13 May; online access by subscription at…

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.

Please sign the petition now (no donation expected)