|November 28, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Elderly, Health, Research|
The National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA) recently tweeted a picture to remind that reconnecting with family during Thanksgiving weekend is not just a sentimental tradition, but a responsibility we have to our older relatives. Although senior citizens make up a growing segment of society (the U.S. Census Bureau projects that about 20 percent of residents of the United States will be 65 years and older in 2030) there is not a body of research or a high-profile public service campaign focused on elder abuse and neglect.
Despite involving a highly vulnerable population, the issue of elder abuse hardly makes for gripping headlines, nor is it the subject of tear-jerking television commercials imploring people to not turn away from the difficult images of neglected senior citizens. According to the report, Understanding Elder Abuse: New directions for developing theories of elder abuse occurring in domestic settings by Shelly L. Jackson and Thomas L. Hafemeister, the issue lacks the research funding and the backing of high profile organizations required to launch it to the forefront of public consciousness. Even the very definition of the word “elderly” is a source of debate as baby boomers don’t want to be reminded that they are getting older.
Without a powerful advocacy group or much data to plan and support a call to action, it is difficult to communicate the urgency of the problem to people bombarded near-daily with causes and foundations looking for more than just a sad story (this issue is not limited to interpersonal violence, there is a high-stakes battle for funding dollars among diseases). Also, as Jackson and Hafemeister discuss, there is not a widely accepted theory that explains the incidence of elder abuse and neglect. Several interpersonal explanations or socio-cultural approaches can be used to examine the issue, but there is not one prominent school of thought that illuminates what limited data are collected on the issue. Another factor that complicates presentation of the issue, is that there are several kinds of abuse and neglect and not all are violent (fraud, theft, self-neglect) or always intentional (neglect, isolation). The authors also point out that the victim of abuse and the relationship between abusing/neglectful caregiver and victim are not closely examined (not to in anyway blame a victim, but relationship dynamics – and the majority of elder caregivers are family members – are fraught with various factors one theory may not adequately capture).
Perhaps the reality of a projected 88.5 million adults over age 65 living in America in 2050 has prompted the need to explore the issue, as research collaborations have been formed through the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) to provide insight into this complex issue, identify evidence-based practices and guide policy formation. To learn more about protecting the elderly at home or in care facilities, resources for caregivers, and the signs of abuse or neglect visit the FAQ page at NECA or the NAPSA website.
Vincent, Grayson K. and Victoria A. Velkoff, 2010, THE NEXT FOUR DECADES, The Older Population in the United States: 2010 to 2050, Current Population Reports, P25-1138, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC.
Jackson, Shelly L. and Thomas L. Hafemeister, 2013, Understanding Elder Abuse: New directions for developing theories of elder abuse occurring in domestic settings, National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC.
|November 9, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Education, News, Policy, Research, Youth Development|
If you were born into a family at the lower end of the earning spectrum, there is a good chance you will remain there, but if you do move up you likely won’t reach the middle income bracket, according to a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts on economic mobility. The findings from the report, Moving On Up Why Do Some Americans Leave the Bottom of the Economic Ladder, but Not Others?, point to a combination of race, educational attainment and employment as having a strong influence on the likelihood of a person ascending the income ladder. Specifically, the researchers found that 86 percent of college graduates versus 55 percent of those without a college degree moved up from the lowest category of the income ladder, as did 84 percent of double income families compared to 49 percent of those with one earner. The accumulation of savings and home equity were also related to upward mobility.
With human capital linked to economic mobility, it makes sense to take a closer look at the external factors that influence the development of one’s knowledge, skill sets and other facets of employability. The 2013 Opportunity Index from Opportunity Nation indicates some overall growth (2.6 percent) in the civic, educational and economic factors that are associated with upward mobility in the United States from 2011 to 2013. An interesting finding was that the zip code tends to be the strongest predictor of achievement – in other words – where one resides and the social, environmental, and institutional factors within that area influence one’s ability to access and successfully leverage opportunity for upward mobility.
Some of the national findings from the Opportunity Index:
- 5.8 million youth ages 16 to 24 are not in school and not employed
- 49 states saw an increase in their poverty rate even as unemployment decreased between 2011 and 2013
- High school graduation rates and the rate of people with at least an associate’s degree increased during this time period
- Unemployment was down, and mean household income was up between 2011 and 2013, but the poverty rate also increased (13.8 percent from 12.5 percent)
- Preschool enrollment stayed steady at just shy of 50 percent of 3 and 4 year olds, and on-time high school graduation increased to 84.1 percent (from 82.7 percent)
- The rate of violent crime and adult volunteering decreased
Photo Credit: M. Puzzanchera (Own Work) (CC By-NC-ND 3.0)
|October 1, 2013||Posted by M. P. under Children and Family, Policy, Research|
The report from, Zero to Three and ChildTrends, Changing the Course for Infants and Toddlers: A Survey of State Child Welfare Policies and Initiatives by Elizabeth Jordan, Jaclyn Szrom, Jamie Colvard, Hope Cooper and Kerry DeVooght, examines child welfare policies for the very young and differences in practices used with this population and children of other ages. In 2011, children under 1 year old were most often the victim of substantiated reports of maltreatment, followed by those ages 1 to 3 years. Forty-seven states responded to the 2012-13 survey with information on how they treat cases involving abused and neglected infants and toddlers. Some of the findings from the report:
- A lack of services or case schedule (expedited hearing, review or meeting schedules) crafted with the special needs and developmental changes of 0-to-3 year olds in mind. Some states (9) did allow more frequent visitation between parents and their very young children in foster care. The majority of states (42) have policies that involve the birth parent(s) in discussion of their children’s health and healthcare decisions while in state care.
- Although their is interest in improving practices, overall, policies and training around child maltreatment are not driven by research on the impact of trauma on the still-developing brain of a child less than 3 years old. Neurological formation is critical from birth to age 3, but only 6 percent (3) of states reported mandatory training for all child welfare staff grounded in research on “promising practices” for infants and toddlers. Of those responding to the survey, 25 states require such training for front-line caseworkers and 15 states offer it as voluntary.
- The most commonly provided service was parenting education (offered by 39 states) or therapy provided to the young child (28 states). Seventeen states do not collect data on the services received by infants or toddlers who have been abused.
In the wake of the Sandusky case, Pennsylvania created the Task Force on Child Protection to review child abuse legislation and procedure. The final report released in 2012, available at their website as a PDF, contains several recommendations including,
- The use and fiscal support of evidence-based child abuse prevention programs
- Increasing the training requirements for caseworkers
- Expediting communication and information sharing through use of electronic communication
- An overhaul of the Child Protective Services Law, revision of definitions of key terms and expanding the list of mandatory reporters (with penalties for non-reporting)
- Creating a statewide database containing information from every report concerning possible neglect or abuse of a child, including those determined as unfounded, while eliminating the expungement process
Recent updates on the Pennsylvania Legislature’s actions around the recommendations are summarized in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette article Seven bills pass through Senate panel to strengthen Pa. child abuse laws by Kate Giammarise and at the Pennsylvania School Boards Association website.