Elder abuse has been occurring since the ancient times. The focus on child abuse and domestic violence has resulted in increased awareness and condemnation of the abuse of our elderly population. What was once considered a social welfare problem has become a criminal justice concern and a public health issue.
Elder abuse has been recognized as an issue by legislatures, researchers and practitioners across the globe. As a result, many laws have been passed protecting this most valuable asset.
Elder abuse can consist of sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation and physical abuse. But most significantly, it consists of neglect. Neglect at the hands of family members, caregivers and nursing home staff.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, Bureau of Justice Services nearly 6,000,000 cases of elder abuse took place in 2010. One in 10 elderly were victims of abuse. Two-thirds of the cases were at the hands of adult children or spouses.
Widely recognized, steps are being taken across the nation and in Ohio to address the needs of this ever increasing segment of our population. Public education, mandatory reporting, specialized training for criminal justice and social services professionals, and stiffer penalties for offenders are examples of the steps being taken to reduce the occurrence of elder abuse.
As the circle of life continues, we must strive to ensure the safety and security of our population from infancy to the golden years. Today’s elderly fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, helped put man on the moon, endured the Cuban Missile crisis, experienced The Kennedy assassination, the civil rights movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the fall of communism and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. They watched as Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, the Giants won the pennant and the U.S. Olympic hockey team stunned the world.
Today’s elders have experienced rich and fulfilling lives, imparted great knowledge, and demonstrated an unparalleled work ethic and sense of duty. We owe it to them to care for them when they are most vulnerable as they did for us when we were most vulnerable.
Our lives are like the rise and fall of the sun. Some of the most beautiful moments in life are when the sun rises and when the sun sets. We need to ensure that beauty continues until the very last days of our lives. For if we don’t care for our elders, how can we expect anyone to care for us when our sun begins to set?
Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware