Elderly abuse and child abuse take different forms, including physical and psychological. Physical and psychological forms of abuse present a variety of presentations. The common types of abuse that older people and children are subjected to include violence, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial or material abuse, discriminatory abuse, institutional abuse, succession problems, and neglect among others. Elderly people and child abuse can have many lifelong effects. The detection of abuse on either elderly people or children is not always obvious. The failure by many victims to report abuse or perpetrators has been a challenge in the issues of elder abuse and child abuse. This paper discusses how and why elder abuse and child abuse are underreported.
How Elder Abuse and Child Abuse are underreported
Many states in the U.S. have passed laws mandating the disclosure of elder abuse and child abuse. The many cases of abuse that are unreported normally prompt the process of enacting legislation. It is noteworthy that elder abuse is the most underreported in America (Pozgar 327). The law provides that every person who suspects elder or child abuse should report it. The legislations also require “doctors, healthcare professionals, social workers, educators, law enforcement officers, clergymen, and foster parents” among others to report any suspected elder or child abuse (Pozgar 327). On the contrary, people have failed to report suspected elder and child abuse. The reasons why people fail to report elder and child abuse to the relevant authorities vary from one person to another.
Why Elder Abuse and Child Abuse are underreported
The victims sometimes fail to report incidents of mistreatment and exploitation because they fear that perpetrators may revenge on them. The abusers are normal people known to the victims (McClennen 44). Spouses and children of older persons normally perpetrate elder abuse (Fisher and Steven 353). However, parents, close relatives, and siblings among others have abused children. In the past, some people have failed to believe victims who report abuse cases. The perpetrators sometimes threaten victims using diverse strategies such as the withdrawal of crucial support or basic needs (McClennen 45).
Underreporting of elder and child abuse has also been associated with little enforcement of the compulsory disclosure laws. People have developed negative attitudes towards reporting elder or child abuse because they believe that it does not help. The institutions tasked with investigating elder and child abuse hardly accomplish confirmed cases (McClennen 44). The institutions have inculcated a culture of skepticism due to the failure of people to handle abuse cases reported to them. This is an institutional difficulty, which has prevented many from reporting elderly people and child abuse.
Notably, people have also failed to report elder and child abuse because it feels uncomfortable to blame another person for abuse. The people who fail to report elder or child abuse normally empathize with suspected perpetrators because it is terrible to accuse another person of mistreating elderly people or children (Pozgar 325). Furthermore, the notion that it is cheaper to avoid reporting abuse has prevented many people from disclosing elder or child abuse. The argument, in this case, is that the cost of hospitalizing abused people and sustaining legal proceedings can drain finances. Therefore, the laws should make it more costly for people who fail to report suspected elder and child abuse. This will also help in making it uncomfortable failing to report abuse cases.
Fisher, Bonnie, and Steven P. Lab. Encyclopedia of Victimology and Crime Prevention. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010. Print.
McClennen, Joan C. Social Work and Family Violence: Theories, Assessment, and Intervention. New York, NY: Springer, 2010. Print.
Pozgar, George D. Legal Aspects of Health Care Administration. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012. Print.