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Behav Sci Law. 1995 Summer;13(3):349-63.

Elder abuse policy: considerations in research and legislation.

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Law/Psychology Program, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA.


Elder abuse has become the most recently "discovered" form of intrafamilial violence. Most states have enacted elder abuse statutes or have amended their adult protection acts to specify the elderly. A majority of jurisdictions have included mandatory reporting requirements within their statutes. Commentary has been fiercely opposed to mandatory reporting for a variety of reasons. Compelled reporting does not appear to increase the number of reports filed, while enforcement of the schemes depletes much of the funds devoted to elder abuse. Definitions of elder abuse are contradictory and vague. Mandatory reporting requirements suggest that legislators believe elders are unable to determine whether reporting is in their own best interests and thus is an ageist response to the problem of elder abuse. Finally, few services are available to families in which elder abuse has been verified and even fewer program evaluations have been performed to assess these services. Mandatory reporting to identify elder abuse is not appropriate in the absence of programs found to be helpful.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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