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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76705 Find in a Library
Title: Elder Abuse
Journal: Journal of Family Law  Volume:18  Issue:4  Dated:(1979-1980)  Pages:695-722
Author(s): K D Katz
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 28
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The article examines the extent and causes of elder abuse and cautions against the increasing demands for elder abuse reporting statutes.
Abstract: The true extent of elder abuse is not known, and the few existing studies tend to assume too broad a definition of the term to cover not only physical abuse but psychological abuse, material abuse, violation of rights, medical abuse, and an unsanitary environment. Hypothetical causes of mistreatment of the elderly, particularly by their children, include economic factors, demands on time, ageism, and negative attitudes toward the disabled. As public concern grows, demands are raised for elder abuse reporting statutes patterned after existing child abuse and neglect reporting laws. In view of the flaws of child abuse reporting legislation, the article argues that mandatory elderly abuse reporting is not necessary. Though abused elderly are frequently capable of reporting instances of abuse, they fail to do so, preferring their undesirable situation to the less desirable alternative of being institutionalized in a nursing home. Furthermore, the most severe abuse cases are least likely to be reported since the victim may never come in contact with anyone from outside the home. From a legal point of view and given the enormous range and amorphous nature of the term, abuse, the potential for criminal liability on the parts of professionals required to report is considerable. Despite obvious parallels between elder abuse and child abuse, one essential difference between the phenomena exists: While children have incompetency status under the law, the aged do not become incompetent and retain their right to be responsible for their own protection. In conclusion, the article advocates services to help the elderly maintain independence or to lessen the burden on family members, but opposes legislative interference. Over 100 bibliographical footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Child abuse reporting statutes; Citizen crime reporting; Elder Abuse; Legal liability; Socioeconomic causes of delinquency
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