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Chapter 24

SOCI 1F90 Chapter Notes - Chapter 24: Criminal Negligence, Acculturation, Ageism

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Michelle Webber

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SOCI 1F90: Introduction to Sociology
Rethinking Society – Chapter 24
Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
Elder Abuse: The Canadian Experience by Elizabeth Podnieks (pg. 275 – 286)
Changing population trends reveal the importance of understanding the experiences, situations, and challenges
faced b various cultural or other subgroups within communities, regions, and countries
Elder abuse and neglect is one such concern
Historical Overview
The first Canadian book on elder abuse, published in 1988
Served to alert the field to some of the more distressing issues practitioners and legislators had to face
Unearthed over 200 North American papers on the abuse and neglect of older persons
The 1980s:
Adult protection legislation and the pros and cons of mandatory reporting of abuse came under scrutiny
Critical debate by a few practitioners and academics sought to provide the impetus for reforms to adult
guardianship and adult protection legislation
The federal governments of Canada initiated the funding for various research, educational, and
intervention initiatives, all of which contributed to the goal of uncovering the abuse and neglect of older
The 1990s:
Publication of a national survey, which revealed that 4% of older Canadians living in private dwellings
experience some form of abuse or neglect
Marked an important step for understanding the extent of the problem in Canada
The federal government was funding research, programming, education, and the development of resource
Health Canada gave 6 million dollars towards elder abuse initiatives
Growth of the community-based elder abuse networks, which resulted in activities to raise awareness and
try to define the issue
Legal Approaches
Federal, provincial, and territorial governments are responsible for legislation addressing elder abuse and neglect
The focus is to stop the abuse, or reduce the consequences once the abuse has taken place
The main legal approaches are: criminal law along with adult protection, adult guardianship, and family violence
Criminal Law
There are numerous clauses in the Criminal Court, which offer older Canadians considerable protection from
In the context of physical abuse, there are provisions dealing with offences such as assault causing bodily
harm, aggravated assault, and sexual assault
Also provides for offences such as theft, fraud, extortion, breach of trust, and the misuse of a power of
attorney, manslaughter or murder, forcible confinement, criminal negligence, and failure to provide the
necessities of life
Criminal law is used less frequently to address abuse and neglect of older persons
Reasons include:
The fact that prosecutions are often difficult, as the victim may be reluctant to cooperate in a
prosecution against the loved one
The victim may have poor health and possible present or impending mental incapacity
The prosecution may take so long that the victim dies before the case goes to court
The perpetrator may be the only significant person in the victim’s life and to report them would
result in loneliness and pain from the perceived consequences of the intervention
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Lack of police training to recognize and respond to elder abuse
Lack of appropriate skills in interviewing older people
Underutilization of special skills for lawyers regarding the needs of older clients and aging issues
Ageism, paternalism, and lack of victim services
Lack of recognition of abuse issues affecting older persons by the crown and judges
Efforts to overcome these barriers include training, education, and policy development
Domestic Violence Legislation
Family violence or domestic violence laws are a relatively new approach to the issue of elder abuse and neglect
Family violence laws primarily focus on protecting the person’s safety and physical protection, and some cover
threats or intimidation
The laws do not deal with other forms of abuse, such as financial abuse, although victim assistance orders
can deal with certain kinds of financial matters
A Domestic Violence Death Review Committee model is used in the Province of Ontario
The Committee reviews domestic violence deaths and makes cross-sector recommendations to help
prevent future tragedies
Models of Intervention: Programs and Approaches
There are many different models of support and help that may be offered to older adults who are being abused
The needs and circumstances of each person may be quite different
No one model works best for all older adults
Domestic Violence Program
An adaptation of the programs that target abuse of women
It is a helpful approach, because it does not violate people’s civil rights and does not discriminate on the basis of
Involves crisis intervention services such as:
Telephone hotlines
A strong role for police in the laying of charges
Court orders for protection
The use of legal clinics
Emergency and secondary sheltering
Support groups
Individual and family therapy
Use of health, social, and legal services
A critical component of domestic violence services is public education, particularly education of the abused about
their rights
Whether the model is effective in helping the older victims is questionable
Problems with police response, restraining orders, poorly managed shelters, and shortages of follow-up services
are a few of the challenges
Cautioned against the singular use of crisis intervention, since older person’s problems tend to be multiple and
interrelated, take a long time to solve, and need to be monitored closely
Drawn attention to the inadequacy of the model when applied to cases of neglect
Advocacy Programs
Advocacy include all actions performed on behalf of an individual or group in order to ensure that their needs are
met and their rights are respected
Recognizes that the older person is an adult in potentially dangerous situations
Advocates for the abused use the least restrictive and intrusive interventions in the older person’s situations
Advise clients of their rights and the alternative services available, and they can assist them in the
carrying out of agreed upon plans
Most important feature of this model is the advocate’s independence from the formal delivery system
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