Essential Sources on Bullying for the General Reader

Selected Sources on Bullying: Essentials for the General Reader

Our primary mission is to advocate for the elimination of bullying that victimizes elderly persons and people living with disability in public and subsidized housing. We realize that bullying in non-subsidized housing for older people and persons with disabilities is common and unacceptable. This is not just a problem in Massachusetts or even the United States. It is a worldwide problem. Education is a basic component of our work. This is a collection of links from our main resource page, compiled and selected by Bonny Zeh, that quickly educate the general reader, the victim of bullying and those who care about the problem of bullying in senior citizens / persons with disabilities housing.


In just 36 minutes, Catherine Futch’s webinar on Elderly Bullying, gives viewers a comprehensive overview of this problem and how to address it.

Fuctch, C. “Elderly Bully”,Meeting the Challenge: Courageous Conversations on Bullying, Hoarding & Family Disputes sponsored by LeadingEdge Georga,September 19, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdOJkVPZRws


Jennifer Weiner’s article, “Mean Girls in the Retirement Home” in the January 17, 2015 Sunday Review section of The New York Times, set off a firestorm and brought attention to this problem. To get a good idea of how commonplace and serious this problem is, read the comments. Some of the writers tell heartbreaking stories. “Mean Girls in the Retirement Home” was one of the most forwarded articles from the New York Times for the month of January, 2015.

Weiner, J., "Mean Girls in the Retirement Home," Sunday Review The New York Times, Jan 17, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/opinion/sunday/mean-girls-in-the-reti…>

Letters to the Editor "When the Elderly Face Social Rejection" New York Times, January 26, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/26/opinion/when-the-elderly-face-social-…

_____,"Mean Girls in the Retirement Home: The New York Times Facebook Page,Facebook, Accessed October 13, 2015 https://www.facebook.com/nytimes/posts/10150521699484999

_____,"Mean Girls in the Retirement Home: The New York Times Twitter Page",Twitter,Accessed October 13, 2015 https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/557361398557474816

Weiner, Jennifer. Facebook, Accessed October 13, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/JenniferWeiner/posts/10155164836760441


This infographic, based on Dr Bonifas book, Bullying Among Older Adults: How to Recognize and Address an unseen Epidemic, succinctly summarizes how serious bullying in senior citizen housing is—and that the vast majority of independent living senior residences have bullying.

Bonifas, Robin. “Bullying Among Older Adults: An Unseen Epidemic”, Health Professions Press, Accessed November 25, 2016. http://www.healthpropress.com/pdf/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Bullying-A…

Dr Bonifas new book, Bullying Among Older Adults: How to Recognize and Address an Unseen Epidemic contains a wealth of information written by a widely cited expert in this topic. Here is a link to the review Jerry Halberstadt, Coordinator of the Stop Bullying Coalition wrote: http://stopbullyingcoalition.org/bonifas

Bonifas, Robin, et. al., Bullying Among Older Adults: How to Recognize and Address an Unseen Epidemic, (Baltimore: Health Professions Press, 2016). This book can be purchased through the publisher’s web site: http:/www.healthpropress.com/product/bullying-among-older-adults-copy/


Persons with disabilities who live in subsidized housing can become the victim of bullying by a neighbor. Unfortunately, this problem isn’t getting the same sort of attention as bullying that affects senior citizens. Here is an article about a HIV+ man who needed legal help to get the bullying neighbor to stop.

_____. “Jose Stands Up to a Neighbor’s Bullying”, AIDS Legal Referral Program, accessed December 2, 2016. http://www.alrp.org/spotlight/jose-stands-up-to-a-neighbors-bullying


This short report from NBC 25 News in Flint, MI shows the many facets of the problem of bullying of senior citizens—including senior citizens who bully others.

Feck, J.,”Senior Bullies: An Aging Population Victimized”,NBC25, May 2, 2012 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHYFVfhClug

I thank Franco Bono for posting a video of elderly bullying in action. Pay attention to the elderly woman in the background, who moves in and touches the elderly man, also in the background, twice, in a mean way. Notice that someone at the dinner table, in the foreground, announces "bully". This is an example of senior citizen bullying another senior. I hope Mr Bono reported the incident to the facility’s management. No one deserves to be treated in that way, and some sort of intervention needs to be done on the elderly woman.

Bono, Franco, "Elderly Bullying", YouTube, January 13, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5WZTXkxSbQ


It’s important to distinguish between rude behavior and bullying. Who hasn’t had a bad day, put one’s foot in one’s mouth or has unintentionally said or done something that was hurtful? Christopher Bergland discusses how to effectively deal with rudeness, to reduce the risk of escalation.

Bergland, Christopher. “5 Polite Ways to Disarm Rude people”,Psychology Today, December 7, 2015. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201512/5-polite-w…


Residents of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs or “nursing homes”) enjoy legal protection against mistreatment that residents of independent or assisted living senior citizen / persons with disabilities don’t have (yet). This flyer summarizes what bullying of nursing home residents is and gives instructions as to what to do if you (or a loved one, or someone you care for) is a victim.

_____. “Resident Mistreatment Fact Sheet”,The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. Accessed June 29, 2016. http://ltcombudsman.org/uploads/files/issues/rrm-factsheet-large-font-5…


Dr Marsha Frankl and her colleagues at the (Boston) Jewish Community for Housing for the Elderly and the (Boston) Jewish Family and Childrens’ Services are on the forefront of dealing with this problem. It’s important when, dealing with a bullying incident, to act quickly, sensitively and appropriately. It’s important to understand that there are many reasons senior citizens bully—and sometimes it’s a symptom of an untreated, or not adequately treated, medical or psychological problems. A one-size-fits-all solution, such as a Zero Tolerance policy, is not appropriate. Interventions need to be tailored to the needs of those involved. They also realize that there are circumstances, when interventions have failed, that evicting the bully or terminating the bully’s employment is appropriate. The written guide (free, downloadable .pdf file) supports the webinar presentation.

Frankl, M. Webinar: Combatting Social Bullying Among Older Adults Posted March 7, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ax_oDzW8jo

Frankl M., Freed G., Isenberg L., Silverlieb C. and Burns K., "Tips and Techniques for Supporting Residents with Mental Illness: A Guide for Staff in Housing for Older Adults." 2012: JCHE & JCFS http://www.jfcsboston.org/Our-Services/Older-Adults/Mental-Health-Guide


Dr Robin Bonifas, along with Dr Marsha Frankl, were two of the earliest experts to identify bullying as a serious problem for senior citizens living in senior citizen / persons with disabilities residences. This is a link to a .pdf containing the powerpoint slides Dr Bonifas used in her talk, “Putting a Stop to Bullying” given at the 2015 SDHDA conference. She claims that minimal research has been completed on bullying among older adults. Based on the results of my searches, more research is being done and this situation is changing. For example, based on studies done in several parts of the world, we can reasonably estimate that at least 20% of residents have experienced one or more episodes of bullying or related behavior.

Bonifas, R. “Putting a Stop to Bullying”, 2015 Annual SDHDA Housing Conference, October 27, 2015. http://www.sdhda.org/images/Events/SDHDA_presentation_bullying2015.pdf

Paul Votto is the President of the National Center for Housing Management, a trade organization representing those who manage senior citizen / persons with disabilities rental properties. This very interesting blog is written by a experienced property manager and industry leader. It’s important for bullying victims (and their advocates) to understand the problem from the landlord’s perspective; so that you know how to cooperate with your landlord. Paul Votto makes it very clear: bullying is bad for business.

Votto, Paul. “Bullying Continues, but Susan is fighting back”, The National Center for Housing Management: Compliance Corner, June 10, 2016. http://www.nchm.org/Resources/Compliance-Corner/Review/ArticleId/143/Su…

Votto, Paul. "Let's Not Forget that Seniors are Adults, Too", The National Center for Housing Management: Compliance Corner, December 10, 2015. http://www.nchm.org/Resources/Compliance-Corner/Review/ArticleId/131/Le…

Votto, Paul. "Is 'Independent Living' Illegal?", The National Center for Housing Management: Compliance Corner, June 11, 2015. http://www.nchm.org/Resources/Compliance-Corner/Review/ArticleId/119/Is…

Votto, Paul. "Bullying in Senior Housing Strikes Chord", The National Center for Housing Management: Compliance Corner, January 9, 2015. http://www.nchm.org/Resources/Compliance-Corner/Review/ArticleId/110/Bu…

Votto, Paul."Bullying in Senior Housing: Is it a Real Problem?", The National Center for Housing Management: Compliance Corner, February 14, 2015. http://www.nchm.org/Resources/Compliance-Corner/Review/ArticleId/65/-Bu…


HUD is taking the issue of harassment (and that includes bullying) seriously. It has released new rules, under the Fair Housing Act, that make it clear that harassment of individuals in protected classes will not be tolerated. Here are links to the new rule.

_____.”FR-5248-F-02 Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices Under the Fair Housing Act”,regulations.us.gov, accessed September 26, 2016.http://www.regulations.gov/document?D=HUD-2015-0095-0065

_____”HUD Proposes Rule to Clarify Protections for Victims of Harassment in Housing”,U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, October 21, 2015. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?proton-src=/press/press_releases_me…

_____”NAHT’s Comments in Support of New Anti-Bullying Rule”,National Association of HUD Tenants: Save Our Homes”, accessed September 26, 2016https://saveourhomes.org/housing-issues/anti-bullying-comments/


Stopbullying.gov has a portal that provides information about individual state’s policies and laws regarding bullying. This site is designed to address the needs of parents and children who are the victims of bullying; even so, this site does have information applicable to seniors and persons with disabilities who are being bullied. http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/index.html

The Stop Bullying Coalition has no control over the nature, contents or availability of the web sites listed. The inclusion of a link on this page does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the Stop Bullying Coalition. This links list is updated as needed.

This page was last updated on June 2, 2017