We always want to believe the best in people, and in most cases, we’ve been taught that as we get older we become wiser and abandon childish behavior. But many adults can attest to this truth — some people just never seem to change. And that is never more accurate than with individuals who either were bullies in their youth or those who were bullied in earlier years.
If you have a parent or grandparent who lives in an assisted-living center or longterm care facility, your visits are important to their well-being. Not only will your visits bring them happiness, but you’ll also use them to make sure they are being cared for.
Visit the assisted living center at various times of the day. You’ll get a feel for how well the residents and staff interact. Further, ask the staff directly if there is an established policy against bullying in their senior living community. The staff at Emeritus Senior Living in Dallas, for example, is trained to respond quickly, believing that intervention — especially quick intervention — is the key to successfully combating the bullying challenge and preventing long-term effects.
Bullying Tactics Among Senior Population
Gerontology expert Robin Bonifas told NBC News that 10 to 20 percent of seniors have experienced senior-to-senior aggression in an institutional setting, much of it verbal. It is more likely to take place in common areas, such as the cafeteria and lounge.
Vickie Bullock, a social worker in Marquette, Mich., told UpperMichiganSource.com that people who were bullies when they were younger continue to do it as they age. Senior bullying comes in many forms:
- Vying for attention of staffers
- Malicious gossip
- Degrading insults
- Attempts to exclude the victim from community activities
Washington, D.C.-based psychologist Renee Garfinkel, who specializes in aging, said that while fear could be at the root of senior bullying, that’s not the whole story. Garfinkel says senior bullying involves “that human phenomenon of the strong picking on the weak.”
What To Look For
Victims of this type of bullying might be reluctant to tell family members that the bullying is happening. They might not even realize that’s what it is. Family members can spot tell-tale signs when the senior attempts to isolate himself and avoids community activities. Sleep challenges, chronic fatigue and depression are major signals that something in the environment might be affecting them.
Emeritus has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying between staff and patients. Make sure your loved one’s facility has the same policy, and watch for signs of verbal abuse turning to physical abuse. Dr. Helene Pavlov writes in Huffington Post that doctors who care for the elderly are trained to recognize symptoms like excessive bruising and broken bones. She adds that as victims lose their mental and physical abilities, they lose the ability to protect themselves, so it’s up to staff and loved ones to look out for their best interests. Watch for extreme changes in your relative’s moods, and try to draw him or her into conversations about fellow residents. Are they making friends? Who do they eat lunches with? Will they introduce you around? Their reactions to those questions will offer clues to their well-being.
Parents have been told for years that violent video games were turning our kids into bullies. The first outcry of violence in video games was heard in 1976 following the release of a game called Death Race, according to MotherJones.com. The object of the game was to run over screaming “gremlins” that turned into gravestones. But scientists can’t determine whether it creates bullies – or actually helps them.
With the release of such games as Grand Theft Auto V, Battlefield 4, and Halo, scientists are still trying to discover what effect these games are having on the kids who play them. While some scientists still stand by the belief that these video games are turning our kids into bullies, further research has found the opposite may be true.
Studies done by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry warns that children who play violent video games can become desensitized to the violence, imitate the behavior and become more aggressive. Other results say it leads to poor social skills, lower grades and reading levels, less exercise and weight problems. A 2008 study called Grand Theft Childhood reports that 60 percent of middle school boys that played at least one video game that’s rated mature had resorted to violent behavior, compared to only 39 percent of boys who had not.
With statistics such as these, it is no wonder parents may be worried about violent video games making their children aggressive. However, these finding may not be accurate. Other scientists, such as Dr. Christopher Ferguson and Dr. Cheryl Olson have conducted studies that show the opposite results. Dr. Ferguson states that no solid findings have been proven on either side and that the correlation between violent games and aggression in children has never been definitely linked.
Taking that research one step further, Fergus and Olsen have found the opposite to be true. In their studies, the games seemed to have a calming effect and reduced aggression and bullying. The Journal of Adolescent Research found in their study that violent video games gave bullies an outlet to release their aggression and bullying tendencies in the game, rather than act on them in real life. In 2008, a Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family statistics reported that from 1996 to 2005, while sales of violent video games increased, the number of serious violent crimes committed by youths decreased.
The emphasis put on many of the mass shootings, such as Columbine and Sandy Hook as evidence that violent video games played by children will escalate crimes such as these has little ground to stand on. A 2004 U.S. Secret Service review of school-based attacks found that only one-eighth of the attackers had any interest in violent video games.
With the scientific jury still out, one of the recommendations that many professionals agree on is the importance of monitoring your child’s video game activity. It is essential to understanding the games they are playing, and giving guidance so that they understand that video games are fun and exciting, but not real. Research the games, understand the rating system, and decide for yourself what impact the games are having on your child.