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Our thanks to alum Joyce Ciriales for finding this article in the Health section of a Philadelphia paper about the work of our very own Dr. Patrick Arbore:
Most of us probably think of kids when we think of bullies. Patrick Arbore thinks of an old man he watched trip a frail old woman in the senior facility where they both lived. He also thinks of a group of women elsewhere who taunted a new resident for speaking Spanish, and of an elderly resident who made a manager’s life so miserable that she quit. The bully smiled broadly when the manager announced her resignation.
“That teenage boy who was the terror in your high school grew up and he just got better at it,” said Arbore, who spoke Thursday at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging‘s Regional Conference on Aging, a three-day event that drew about 600 professionals who work with older adults and their families.
Arbore, who grew up on a Western Pennsylvania dairy farm, also thinks of his father and grandmother, who he says were bullies. Exposure to them made him repress his own anger, and he became depressed and suicidal. But his experience also convinced him that both victims and bullies deserve compassion.
“Bullying is taught,” he said, and it often stems from fear and inadequacy. “People who bully have an intense desire to be in control. What that reveals underneath is insecurity,” said Arbore, founder and director of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief Related Services at the Institute on Aging in San Francisco.
Arbore said he confronted the man he’d seen trip his fellow resident. She’d managed not to fall, but her lunch went flying. She cried when she got to her table. The man refused to meet Arbore’s eyes and denied that he had done anything. Arbore talked to him again later and his anger spilled out. He hated the woman, he said. He hated old people and he didn’t want to be like her.
The man’s actions revealed his “internalized ageism,” Arbore said.
Americans have gotten better at acknowledging bullying in schools, but they’ve been slower to confront the reality of bullying among seniors, Arbore said. Ten to 20 percent of seniors reported exposure to aggression by other older adults, usually verbal abuse, one study found. He thinks the behavior is underreported. Seniors are afraid to tell, and staff may be afraid that bullies will focus on them. The bullies may also be cunning enough to ingratiate themselves with managers.
Senior victims are often smaller and frailer than their bullies. Some may have dementia or anxiety, or even a history of abuse. Bullying often occurs when the staff isn’t watching, in dining rooms where newcomers are shunned at certain tables and communal areas where a bully controls the television. Even Facebook can be a forum for bullying and exclusion.
The abuse may leave victims depressed and isolated. Arbore said bullies are dangerous because they inspire more bullying and fuel hate.
While some victims can learn to be more assertive, others must rely on staff to create an environment where everyone knows that bullying is unacceptable, Arbore said.
Bullies often have no idea how their actions affect others, he said. Empathy can be taught. Sometimes it’s helpful for a staff member to mediate a discussion between bully and victim, concluding with the bully agreeing to stop.
Staff, he said, can “teach that bully that there are other people and it’s OK if they are different than you are, and you’re not in charge of the moral compass.”
Many will recognize Susan Monahan, formerly of Mission College, and a dedicated counselor who is responsible for so many students’ successful transfers from community college to a bachelor’s program. It is our great fortune that she’s now working for us, focusing on making sure that residents and employees in the South Bay know about our evening programs (especially those at Mission College). We’re thrilled to have her on board!
Susan takes an authentic interest in each person she meets and is a solution-oriented professional who encourages students (and everyone else) to focus on goals and ways of achieving them. She inspires students with the confidence to know that these are within reach. We’re proud to know her and to be partnering with her to bring more opportunities to students who are considering a bachelor’s completion… and beyond!
Her dedication makes a real difference in people’s lives; she fits right into the NDNU legacy and Mission to promote social justice and community engagement. Welcome, Susan!
The Library and the Dorothy Stang Center have collaborated to bring A Reason to Remember, a traveling exhibit developed by the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, to the Library from August 1st to September 29th. The exhibit presents victims and survivors of the Holocaust through the stories of five Jewish families living in Roth, Germany. In collaboration with Professor Miriam Zimmerman, the Library is hosting a panel discussion on September 15th from 2 pm to 4:30 pm.
I visited the exhibit this week and took the above photo. It is well worth visiting!
We are pleased to attach our 2017 Capstone Project Newsletter, which provides a brief description of the projects that our students engaged in the community this academic year. We are privileged to work with such impressive students and are inspired by their visions for and energy around creating change in the community.
I saw this sign posted today outside of the Registrar’s office and thought that it offered inspiration and a vision of hope. Sister Julie Billiart founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who of course in turn founded our university. She faced many challenges, but throughout her life spoke up for those who were fleeing persecution, ministered to those who were hungry, and created institutions by which education was made accessible to those who would otherwise have been excluded from such opportunities.
The social justice and community engagement mission of NDNU carries on this legacy though our many passionate and determined students who apply innovation,ethical action, intelligence, and compassion to serve others and bring justice to today’s world.
Just imagine what’s next!
Please consider joining campus leaders, including our very own Daisy Marquez (Human Services, ’17) to learn more about individuals who are immigrants and refugees and to be part of NDNU’s efforts to respond to this crisis.
Those participating will encounter the stories of immigrants and refugees in various forms: at a monthly vigil at an immigration detention center, at the historical exhibit on Angel Island, at the courtrooms holding deportation hearings, from Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, and from the families and individuals themselves.
Students are invited to attend all OR some of the following events:
Saturday, March 4: Meet at West County Detention Center in Richmond 1-12:30
Sunday, March 5: Meet at Angel Island Ferry Terminal, SF Fisherman’s Wharf, 9-3
Monday, March 6: Meet at Immigration District Court, Sansome Street, SF 8:30-5
Tuesday, March 7: Meet at Immigration Courts, Montgomery St., SF 8:30-noon.
- Daisy Marquez, Human Services, ’17
- Dr. Stephen Cole, NDNU History Department
- Jim McGarry, Sr. Dorothy Stang Center, NDNU
- Fr. Ken Hamilton, NDNU Philosophy and Religious Studies Department
There is NO COST for this “Alternative Spring Break.” For more information or to sign up, contact Jim McGarry at email@example.com or (650) 508-4120