Assessment 1 – ESSAY Example

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The Statistical Trends Related to the Abuse of Older People.

The Statistical Trends Related to the Abuse of Older People.

The field of criminology entails the study of the causes of crime (UN General Assembly, 2011). It is not simple to explain why people commit crimes. We are in a complex society where the causes of crimes are also complex. An example of a criminal behaviour is the mistreatment and abuse of older people. Mistreatment of older people has been around for many years and is considered a societal issue that requires immediate action (Butler and Lewis, 2000). In order to be able to address abuse of older people effectively, the degree in which older individuals experience abuse need to be identified. There are many risk factors associated with the mistreatment and abuse of older people. For instance, physical impairment is one of the most consistently identified risk factor (Butler and Lewis, 2000). A number of research evidence suggests that mistreatment and abuse is prevalent among female of advanced age and people from a lower socio-economic status. This paper will provide statistical trends associated with the abuse of elder people. It will also use criminology theories to explain why this crime is prevalent.

The overall prevalent and severity of abuse of older people is considered high especially in Australia. Australia faces an increase in the population of older people. By 2050, it is estimated that ¼ of the Australian population will be over 65 years (Walklate, 2007). Research suggests that the majority of people who abuse older community are family members. Most of them are adult children, partners and spouses etc. Family members who are under the influence of alcohol and drugs and those with mental and emotional illnesses abuse at higher rates compared to those who do not. In comparing population around the world, it is estimated that there are more than 20,000 unreported cases of elderly abuse and mistreatment in Victoria annually and about 100,000 cases throughout Australia per year (Fisher and Regan, 2006). About four times as many new cases of elderly abuse are not reported as compared to those reported or substantiated by protective service agencies (Bonnie and Wallace, 2003). One out of 10 Australian elderly aged 60 years+ have undergone abuse or mistreatment.

According to a recent research conducted in Australia, financial abuse represented about 1.3% which was the most frequent abuse. Psychological abuse represented about 1.2% and the physical abuse was about 0.5%. The lowest percentage was sexual abuse which represented about 0.05% (Stein and Barrett-Connor, 2000). Concerning financial abuse, the most reported cases involved elder people being forced to give out property or capital unwillingly. The most prevalent case of psychological abuse includes verbal insult and threatens. In addition, more women than men report experiences of elder abuse especially in terms of finances and psychological. Overall, the highest degree of elder abuse occur among divorced or widowed (Teaster, 2004). Also, higher level of mistreatment occurs in households where older individuals share a house with their family. Furthermore, in Australia, most of the reported cases of elder abuse involve people from low sociocultural status community. Elder abuse has also been witnessed at the workplace, retirement homes and hospitals (Dong, 2011).

Individual theories can explain the reason for the occurrence of crimes such as elder abuse. These theory look at crime as concept connected to the make-up of an individual (Akers and Sellers, 2008). Individual theory of crime argues that criminals are born criminals. They commit a crime by balancing the costs and rewards of committing a crime. One concept of individualistic approach is the biological criminology which assumes that crimes are committed by people with criminal inherent characteristic of their biological make-up (Einstadter and Henry, 2006). There are a number of personality traits that criminals are likely to possess. For instance, criminals are likely to be extraverted than introverted. In addition, individual theory can be thought in line with psychological perspectives. Psychological conditions of a person are influenced by immediate social surroundings (Einstadter and Henry, 2006). In line with this, mistreatment and abuse of older people may be caused by psychological conditions of people. For instance, people who have grown up in surroundings that are faced with criminal activities have the potential to commit a crime themselves such as abuse of elderly people.

Another theory that explains the reason why people commit suicide is structural theory. Structural theory argues that people’s places and surroundings in the socioeconomic structure have an impact on chances of committing criminal activities (Larry, 2000). For instance, poor people are at higher chances of committing crimes since they are not able to achieve monetary success. Slum dwellers do not adhere to the law since they live in surroundings where social control is fragmented. In addition, crime may be committed as a result of anger over inability to achieve social and economic success (Cao, 2004). In the case of crimes committed as a result of elder abuse and mistreatment, most of the people who commit this crime are mentally unorganized and possess internal anger as a result of the inability to achieve success. This is why elder abuse is more pronounced in the areas with people of low sociocultural status. Adult children who mistreat older people often come from places where social control is wrecked.

In conclusion, abuse of older people has gained social recognition as an issue that require solution. Older abuse may take the form of financial, psychological, sexual and physical abuse. The prevalence of elder abuse and mistreatment has increased dramatically in Australia with many of the abuse cases not reported. Most abusers of older people are family members including adult children, spouses and partners. Australia faces an increase in the population of older people. One out of 10 Australian elderly aged 60 years+ have undergone abuse. In Australia, financial abuse amount to 1.3% while psychological abuse is 1.2% and the physical abuse is 0.5%. More women than men report experiences of elder abuse. The theories that explain the reasons why people commit suicide are structural and individual. Personality of a person is influenced by surrounding that may make an individual commit crime. For instance, due to lack of social status, poor people are susceptible to committing elder abuse.


Akers R. and Sellers C. (2008).Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation and Application. 5th Edition. Los Angeles: Roxbury

Bonnie, R, & Wallace, R (Eds.). (2003). Elder mistreatment: Abuse, neglect and exploitation in an aging America. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Cao, L. (2004). Major criminological theories: concepts and measurements. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Dong X, Simon MA, Beck T, Farran, C., McCann, J., Mendes de Leon, C, et al. (2011). Elder abuse and mortality: The role of psychological and social wellbeing, Gerontology, 57(6), 549-558.

Einstadter, W. & Henry, S. (2006). Criminological theory: an analysis of its underlying assumptions. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.

Fisher, B.S., and Regan, S.L. (2006). The extent and frequency of abuse in the lives of older women and their relationship with health outcomes. The Gerontologist, 46, 200-209.

Larry, J. S. (2000). Theories of criminology: Social Structure Theories, 7th edn, Wadsworth Publishing Co. pp. 1-36.

R. Butler. & M. Lewis, (2000). Aging and Mental Health: Positive psychosocial and biomedical approaches, 5th edn, Mosby, p. xvii.

Stein, M. & Barrett-Connor, E. (2000). “Sexual assault and physical health: Findings from a population-based study of older adults.” Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, 838-843.

Teaster PB, Dugar T, Mendiondo M, Abner EL, Cecil KA, & Otto JM. (2004). The 2004 survey of adult protective services: Abuse of adults 60 years of age and older. Washington DC: National Center on Elder Abuse.

UN General Assembly (2011). Principles for older persons, annexure to resolution 46/91, United Nations, forty-sixth session, retrieved from

Walklate, S. (2007). Understanding Criminology: Current Theoretical Debates (3rd ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.