Commission Distributes Bullying Survey

Dark feather on stringy green seaweed

Commission survey opens

As a Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission on Bullying, and as your representative on that body, I am pleased and honored to announce that the survey "Bullying of Tenants in Public and Subsidized Multi-Family Housing," on bullying of elderly and people living with disability in Massachusetts is ready. Now you can report on your experience of life in public and subsidized housing developments, without identifying yourself or your housing development.

The survey was designed for respondents who are elderly or living with disability who live in a subsidized or public housing development for elderly and disabled in Massachusetts; and for respondents who work in such a development. It is being distributed to housing developments covering about 90,000 units.

How to take the survey

The survey is online only. We lack the funding and resources for any other distribution method at this time. The survey is anonymous and respondents are not tracked.

The survey can be done on any device connected to the internet: smart phone, a shared computer at your residence, a computer at the senior center or public library, a laptop, or a PC.

Distribution and access is controlled by the housing agencies, MassHousing and DHCD. The housing authority, landlord, manager, or executive director should distribute the link to everyone who is eligible: all residents and those who work on the premises. If you do not get a notice within a reasonable time, do not hesitate to ask your housing administrator.

If you cannot obtain the link address, and you believe you are entitled to do the survey, you should write to Kelleher, Michael (EHS) mailto:Michael.Kelleher2@MassMail.State.MA.US and/or to me at

I urge each of you who lives or works in these residential communities to fill in the survey accurately and completely. The survey will close on October 27, 2017.


The Commission to Study Ways to Prevent Bullying of Tenants in Public and Subsidized Multi-Family Housing (chapter 2 of the Resolves of 2016) is charged with investigating and studying the prevalence and impact of the bullying of tenants, with a focus on elderly and disabled tenants in public and subsidized multi-family housing.

We on the Commission seek your assistance:

  • to better understand the underlying issues of bullying in public and subsidized multi-family housing,
  • the prevalence of bullying,
  • and the avenues by which people who are bullied seek help.

We want to know what helps to create a healthy community as much as we need to know what enables bullying.

Your answers will be instrumental in the Commission's deliberations, and, ultimately, inform the Commission's report to the General Court which will include:

  • the results of its investigation
  • specific recommendations,
  • and may include proposed legislation.

Success through collaboration

As a Commissioner, I was told that the Stop Bullying Coalition should submit their surveys through a separate collection point or link. A valid reason might be that the survey is intended for people who live or work in a residential development, and our group, the Stop Bullying Coalition, may include stakeholders and advocates who are not in those residential categories.

For that reason I have, in my capacity as Coordinator of the Stop Bullying Coalition, called on our followers to depend on their housing providers to point them to the survey. Thus, only qualified persons would access the survey.

To do otherwise would be a breach of my obligations and trust to the partners and followers of the Stop Bullying Coalition. And in doing so I have met the legitimate research concerns of other Commissioners and their agencies.

Especially in a Commission whose purpose is to find ways to eliminate bullying, which treats targets differently than others, it would be unseemly and disrespectful of the partners of the Stop Bullying Coalition to treat them differently, even symbolically. I am sure that no disrespect was intended.

In my training in social anthropology, one of my mentors, Margaret Mead, stressed the importance of transparency and honesty in research. Otherwise, she explained, people may not know what you have lied about, but they will know something is wrong and they will not trust you, and will not tell you the truth. The result would be information and data that is invalid.

In my role as a Commissioner, I owe a fiduciary duty to the people of the Commonwealth to assure, insofar as I am able, the validity of our research. And in carrying out my research duties for the Commission, I must therefore be transparent.

Appreciation for collaboration

Chairwoman Linn Torto and her staff, including Mike Kelleher and Vivian Pham, have been unfailingly courteous, efficient, and respectful and it is an honor and privilege to work with them. Cate Mingoya of DHCD is an efficient, effective collaborator who is a genius at facilitating a meeting. Wide distribution of the survey has been implemented by Laura Taylor of DHCD and by David Eng of MassHousing.

I have been supported and assisted by many of the people in the Stop Bullying Coalition. I am so very grateful for your help and the privilege of representing you. We may be old, we may be living with disability. We all seek to be treated with respect, and most of all, to be treated like everyone else.

As residents and advocates we have enjoyed the cooperation and support of legislators, key administrative agencies, and agencies that advocate for residents, elderly people, and those living with disability. While of course there are numerous failing in our social support systems, nevertheless the people who have come together in the work of the Commission are all experienced, skillful, intelligent, and decent human beings who dedicate themselves each day to the common welfare. While we may disagree on details and tactics, we do so with respect and with our common goal in mind: to protect the rights of all who live and work in public and subsidized housing.

Some of you have come to dread my asking you to test and evaluate yet another revision of the survey. Some of you have wondered if "they" will listen to us and actually "do something." One of our most effective networkers and advocates, despite her own perilous situation, reaches out to people that are desperate for hope. She wrote to one, "Hang in there. Your health is the most important thing. You gotta have a sense of humor about this stuff. A survey is soon coming out that should make you feel like someBODY, someWHERE cares what you are going through."

This survey is a landmark success for the Commission and for the Stop Bullying Coalition, and all our partners in advocacy. It is a downpayment on the mission approved by the legislature and Governor that we have all worked together to achieve.

Please see below, the appreciation of your contributions by Chairwoman Linn Torto and the notice of the next meeting of the Commission.

Thanks from the Linn Torto, Chairwoman of the Commission on Bullying

Your coalition brings valuable perspective and experience to this work. We are grateful they are at the table.

...a purpose of the commission speaks to the inclusion and value of input from other stakeholders – this would include your coalition and others on your mailing list – all of whom are welcome at the table in an informal capacity if not appointed by the governor and legislature and welcome to participate in the survey.

I look forward to our continued partnership as we prepare a final report for the legislature.---Lynn Torto, Chairwoman

Commission to meet

The Stop Bullying Coalition is invited to attend this meeting. Note, there may be a security check at the entrance.

This is what we can do when we work together. This is democracy.

Thank you for what you do.


Jerry Halberstadt Coordinator, Stop Bullying Coalition