Bullying across the lifespan: In senior facilities, too

We know all about school bullying and workplace bullying. Now, sadly, we can talk about bullying in senior homes.

Like junior high

Paula Span, blogging for the New York Times (link here), reports:

This phenomenon, a sort of social bullying, apparently comes as no surprise to administrators of senior apartments, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and senior centers. “What happens to mean girls? Some of them go on to become mean old ladies,” said Marsha Frankel, clinical director of senior services at Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Boston, who has led workshops (innocuously called “Creating a Caring Community”) for staff and residents.

Span quotes a woman whose mother was bullied in an assisted care facility, referring to the behaviors as exclusionary and cliquish, much like junior high school.

Bullying across the lifespan

We need to keep connecting the dots. Bullying doesn’t stop once folks leave high school.

There is no one-size-fits-all response. Combinations of education, counseling, training, and legal intervention must be tailored to fit the various settings in which bullying occurs.

But it starts with acknowledging the ubiquity of these behaviors throughout our lives.

Maryland coalition

An example of this expansive approach is the Montgomery County [Maryland] Coalition for the Prevention of Bullying and Related Health Risks, an informal coalition of mental health providers and educators formed three years ago to address bullying behaviors.

Coalition members have been active in supporting legislation and public policy initiatives in Maryland that address bullying issues, especially within the schools.

Co-founder Dr. Jorge Srabstein of Children’s Medical Center in Washington D.C. has been promoting understanding of “bullying across the lifespan” as a way of grasping how abusive behaviors start at a young age and endure through our senior years, and the Coalition is a living manifestation of that commitment.

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