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Posted on March 28th, 2013, by

Children and elderly people are among the most vulnerable groups of population and therefore they need extra protection from the state and consequently more attention of public on the whole. The matter is, the percentage of child abuse and elder abuse is rather high, and everyday you can face news of this or that case telling how children or senior people were awfully treated either by their nearest or some other people.

Child abuse is spoken about when there is real harm to a child or a threat of harm including physical or emotional damage coming from neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, physical and sexual abuse (Gauthier et al., 1996). In the worst case child abuse leads to death, as it happened at Virginia Shopping Mall on November 30. As Nina Mandell, Daily News staff writer, reports, 50 years old Carmela Dela Rosa threw her granddaughter Angelyn Ogdoc aged 2 and a half over a guardrail of a 5th floor outdoor walkway. The child ceased at Inova Fairfax Hospital. The woman was accused of aggravated malicious wounding and will be probably sentenced to death, but nothing will return the toddler to life.

In this case we see that irreparable harm has been conducted by a relative taking care of the child, as it is in a great number of cases. The reasons and motives of such behavior have not been published yet, and the easiest way to explain it would be the mental disorder of the grandmother. On the one hand, parents, relatives and caregivers often treat children with abuse but they mostly do it with some logically adoptable aim (to teach, to punish the child or to stop him or her crying, for instance), but this sequence of actions is not working in the case described above. No benefits are obvious for a woman, and even if she was too irritated, she could not stay unaware there were a lot of witnesses around and penalty would come without fail.

Neighbors testify that it was a rather happy family, and it makes the situation even more confusable because it gives no definite answer how to protect a child from such accidents when the most frightening threat comes from within the family. Whom can the parents trust if they cannot trust even their own parents? Still, often parents themselves are accused of child abuse, and sole parented families experience it even more often. The government and social control are obviously necessary.

The facts of elder abuse are not more optimistic. As well as small children, they often can’t stand up for their rights and people taking care of them use it in their own favor. When the term of elder abuse (or senior mistreatment) is defined, the main thing underlined is that it appears where there is a relationship of trust (Cooper et al., 2008). Thus, the abuser is one whom the elderly person relies on. As usually, abuse can be physical or moral, sexual or neglect (either active or passive). There are also wide-spread rights abuses and self-abuses and, of course, financial exploitation: illegal use of senior person’s money, property, and other valuables by deceive, constraint, burglary and so on. One of such financial abuses happened with one old gentleman in Atlanta, Georgia. He was guided by a 39 years old Veronica Martin who took care of him and had access to his records. When paying, she presented herself as his relative and thus her abuse includes misrepresentation ”“ a common tactic in senior abuse. As it has been reported, she will take criminal responsibility for at least 10,000 dollars.

Not only paid workers, but also volunteer workers, practitioners, neighbors and, what is even more frequently faced, relatives, partners and spouses get the intention to dispossess some resources from the elderly person. The reasons can be different, and much research is undertaken. Some studies show, that people often simply get pleasure (schadenfreude) when oppressing a senior person in some way. The results can be also varying, and elder people often find themselves in discomfort, pains, and moral sufferings or even have no food to it but also they have no one to complain to. The circumstances are often found out when it is too late. And gain, like with children, it is a question who can be a better caretaker for a senior person when even the nearest relatives search for a chance to use him or her for their gain.

In the case shown above the things look more adequate because the woman simply wanted to make a profit, and maybe she even had some marginally justifiable aims like to feed her children. She may have been reasoning that this gentleman didn’t have many years to live forward, and hence had no further possibilities to spend all those savings, while she needed them more and decided to take a piece for herself or for her family. Because no matter how caring, reliable and altruistic we try to be, our own egoistic interest is in any event on the first place as it is our human nature.

References
Cooper C, Selwood A, & Livingston G. (2008). The prevalence of elder abuse and neglect: a systematic review. Age Ageing, 37 (2), 151”“160.
Gauthier L., Stollak G., Messé L., and Aronoff J. (1996). Recall of childhood neglect and physical abuse as differential predictors of current psychological functioning. Child Abuse & Neglect, 20 (7), 549”“559.

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