The rapidly increasing population of elderly people has been accompanied by a number of challenges to the elderly, communities, and the state. The frequency of victimization of the elderly through various crimes has escalated with the criminal justice system facing increasing pressure to curb this trend. Despite all states having legislation that target protecting the adult population from crimes, wide gaps in reporting of crimes against the elderly are evident across the nation. The elderly have increasingly become more vulnerable to physical, financial, and emotional abuse. In many cases, citizens who are aware of these abuses may fail to report to the police or the elderly people themselves may fear engaging in legal battles. Many of the crimes perpetrated against the elderly to a considerable extent reflect the general state of affairs as far as criminal activities are concerned. However, some categories of crimes are more prevalent among the elderly. This paper shall discuss these categories of crimes in light of the manner and forms in which they occur. In addition, the paper shall allude to the existing gaps in reporting and efforts by the criminal justice system, and what needs to be done in order to bridge the gap.
According to the results of a recent study, the elderly people are facing an increasing frequency of abuse including widespread cases of financial exploitation and domestic violence. A salient factor which has been cited as aggravating the situation is the limited social services which the elderly people are receiving. This has been caused by little public interest as well as financial constraints facing the economy. In addition, the issue of crimes against the elderly has not received adequate attention as reflected by laxity in law enforcement and prosecution of perpetrators of the crimes. According to The Crime Report, the state and federal governments have done little to curb the situation (Tabachnick, 2009).
Another obstacle that has stood in the way of justice for elderly victims of crime is the fact that many cases go unreported. It is estimated that tens of thousands of elderly people across the United States suffer different forms of abuse in the hands of family members, friends, or strangers masquerading as good Samaritans. Despite the fact that about 500, 000 cases of abuse against the elderly are reported every year, millions of similar cases are not reported (Crimes Against the Elderly, n.d). To add insult to injury, a significant percentage of the reported cases may end up being undocumented. The undocumentation of such cases usually leads to an inaccurate assessment of trend of crimes. Consequently, the wrong picture of the extent of these crimes may result in little effort being made by the concerned authorities. At the same time, many perpetrators of the crimes are not brought to book and this leads to a vicious cycle of criminal activities against the elderly (Payne, 2005, p. 45).
One of the most...