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Elder Abuse Legislation: Is It Doing What It Should?

3982 words - 16 pages

Background on Mandatory Reporting Laws
Elder abuse is causing emotional, physical or sexual harm, financial exploitation, or intentional or unintentional neglect to someone of greater age, whether it be from a family member or a stranger. Elder abuse has been a social issue for many years prior to any kind of legislation being made. Victims of elder abuse are often older adults ages 60 to 75 and the person abusing the elder is usually someone the victim knows, but could be a stranger in certain cases.
Laws are created to protect and prevent unacceptable actions from happening. As the awareness of abuse became apparent to advocate groups there was a push toward the creation of legislation. The first initial movement toward incorporating elder care in legislation was in the 1960s with the Older Americans Act. The Older Americans Act assigned guardianship or institutionalization to cases of abuse. This trend continued into the 1970s with the creation of Adult Protective Services. The Adult Protective Services was created through the Social Security Act to protect adults 18 or older who suffer from abuse, neglect, or exploitation through funding for welfare programs. Just three years into the new millenium the Elder Justice Act was introduced. In 2010, the Elder Justice Act was made into a law and began receiving funding from the federal government as part of President Obama’s health care reform bill.
The focus of this paper is to look at whether or not mandatory reporting laws increase the likelihood that cases of elder abuse and neglect will be reported. More specifically looking at the effectiveness of having mandatory reporting laws and to see if other variables contribute to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the laws.

Who's involved in elder abuse reporting?
Anyone can come in contact with a case of elder abuse, but there are certain people who are required to report when they recognize that elder abuse is occurring. Mandatory reporters are those that are required to be involved in the reporting process. Mandatory reporters include health care professionals, such as family physicians and emergency response personnel. Other forms of mandatory reporters are clergy members and in some cases police officers. Many states require that if you have an elder in your custody or care that you are also a mandatory reporter. What it means to be a mandatory reporter is that if you suspect a case of abuse done against an elderly citizen, you must report the case to the authorities, and then the authorities with place the victim in a safer setting.
There are also members of society involved in elder abuse reporting that are not labeled as mandatory reporters. The Adult Protective Services and other departments of social services play an important role in enforcing the laws put in place by the states. Of grave importance is the general public as the role of a voluntary reporter. The general public includes any and all who live in society. It is a very...

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