Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


June 19, 2013

Seniors can be bullies, too

Center spreads awareness of growing elder problem

Bullying is often seen as a school problem, but the 60-plus population isn’t immune to it either.

Jason Ebacher, an assistant superintendent and director of staff training and development in the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, visited Andover’s senior center last Thursday, June 13, to talk about senior bullying.

His visit came two days before the United Nations-designated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is June 15.

Ebacher said bullying among seniors doesn’t typically involve physical contact, but rather takes the form of verbal confrontations — and that can create chaos at senior centers.

Senior centers are generally seen as welcoming, happy places, Ebacher said. But bullies can ruin that atmosphere, he said.

“I’ve seen where that happens,” said Ebacher, who has been called out to senior centers where conflict has resulted in unhealthy situations.

Victims of bullying typically feel rejected and won’t come back to a center, Ebacher said. The result is they withdraw socially and often become depressed.

“So, they stay home and don’t go out,” he said. “And, that’s not good.”

Kathy Urquhart, director of The Center at Punchard (Andover’s senior center), said there have been instances of bullying at her center in the past. She encourages victims to notify her or her staff when it happens so they can speak to the person doing the bullying.

Sometimes, there might be another matter at the root cause of the bullying, she said. And Urquhart’s goal is to find out what that is.

“There could be a medical problem — someone could be off medication — and that contributes to bully behavior,” Urquhart said.

Ebacher also said bystanders play an important role when bullying is involved.

“Research shows that bystanders speaking up are effective about 50 percent of the time,” he said.

The bottom line is verbal aggression and bullying will not be tolerated at the Andover senior center or anywhere else, said those hoping to combat it.

“We just want victims to tell us if they are bullied,” Urquhart said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES/Courtesy photo Dr. Howard Koh will step down as U.S. assistant secretary for health after five years to rejoin Harvard School of Public Health this fall in a new position in its Department of Health Policy and Management.

    Koh to rejoin Harvard School of Public Health Posted 7 days ago 1 Photo
  • 48 locals to pedal in Pan-Mass Challenge Posted 7 days ago

    Courtesy photo Hannah Currie is spending 10 days this summer becoming immersed in the music industry at GRAMMY Camp in Los Angeles.

    Currie hits note at LA's GRAMMY Camp Posted 7 days ago 1 Photo
  • South Church names new senior pastor Posted 14 days ago

    COURTESY PHOTO Andover residents Patrick James, left, Adam Geaslen, Ryan Byrd and Dan Bryant claimed first place at the 35th annual Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence Golf Tournament at Indian Ridge Country Club in town.

    Local foursome aces Boys & Girls Club tourney Posted 14 days ago 2 Photos

    COURTESY PHOTO The Marble sisters --Anna, 8, left, and Isabel, 11 -- post-donatin to Locks of Love.

    Sisters pair up to donate pony tails to Locks of Love Posted 14 days ago 4 Photos
  • AT HOST1

    DESI SMITH/Staff photo Former Andover residents Dana Cohen and his wife, Ginny, back, left, have regularly hosted foreign exchange students since 1989. Farrah Moussa, back right, from Egypt, and Paula Valverde, front right, from Spain, are the latest students to spend a year with the Cohens, who now live in Gloucester.

    Former Andover couple welcomes exchange students for quarter-century Posted 14 days ago 4 Photos
  • Thursday, July 3, 2014
  • LENO1

    FILE PHOTO Jay Leno, who honed his comedy skills growing up in Andover, will receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor this fall during a performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.

    In good comedy company Posted 21 days ago 2 Photos

    ACT 3.jpg Susan Stott, third from left, accepts the Opening Doors to Affordable Housing in Andover Award from Andover Community Trust directors, from left, Don Schroeder, treasurer; John Pearson, president; and Joan Johnson, clerk.

    Affordable housing advocates honored Posted 21 days ago 2 Photos

    Salim Tabit

    Townspeople in the News Posted 21 days ago 1 Photo

Pictures of the Week