Elder abuse isn’t just an incredibly serious issue that affects countless people every year – it’s also, sadly, a lot more common than a lot of people probably think. According to the National Council on Aging, roughly 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse in their lives. In almost 60% of these cases, the perpetrator is actually a family member. In fact, almost 66% of those perpetrators are adult children or spouses of the victim.
But the most damning statistic of all is the fact that only about 1 in 14 cases is actually ever reported to the proper authorities – meaning that for as bad as the problem already is, the reality of the situation is likely far, far worse.
This is exactly the problem that Wisconsin State Attorney General Brad Schimel hopes to solve, using the power of modern technology as an invaluable weapon moving forward. Schimel recently announced the Safe Seniors Camera Program that will allow hidden cameras to capture instances of elder abuse and neglect in the most comprehensive and holistic ways possible.
The Safe Seniors Camera Program: Breaking It Down
When the Safe Seniors Camera Program officially launches later this year, local law enforcement agencies will be provided with both high quality hidden cameras and memory cards. Any local citizen who suspects that their loved ones are being abused or neglected can contact the authorities, explain the situation and check out a camera and a memory card for up to 30 days.
Those concerned citizens can then place the cameras inside their loved one’s home for the purposes of surveillance. It’s important to note, however, that family members MUST save ALL recordings captured by the camera to turn back over to the police after the 30 days is up. Any illegal activities that are captured must also be immediately reported. This is likely done in an attempt to curb the possibility that someone may say that they’re checking out a camera for elder abuse purposes but then, in reality, they use it for something else.
The Safe Seniors Camera Program is already incredibly popular throughout the area and a number of local agencies are already on board.
These include the following:
Appleton Police Department
Brown County Sheriff’s Office
Fond du Lac Police Department
Grand Chute Police Department
Oshkosh Police Department
Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office
Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office
In a lot of ways, the program itself makes perfect sense. You’ve already likely seen reports crop up over the last few years of concerned family members using hidden cameras to protect their elderly loved ones from caregivers and other people with malicious intentions. Now, even people who may not necessarily be able to afford a camera outright can have access to this technology, helping to address one of the most significant issues that society is currently facing.
It’s also important to note that with the hidden camera approach, it is now possible to address elder abuse that falls outside the boundaries of physical abuse itself. Yes, physical abuse is common – but so are issues like emotional abuse (like verbal assaults, threats of abuse or harassment), confinement (meaning that an elderly person has been restrained or isolated), passive neglect (meaning that the elderly person has been deprived of food, clothing, shelter or other necessities) and much more.
This can also be an ideal way to address another common form of elder abuse – financial exploitation. This describes either the misuse or the withholding of (and in many cases, both) an older adult’s resources by another person.
One thing is for sure – since this particular program is likely to be a success, it can’t be long before similar ones roll out in additional areas all over the country. Hopefully, this will all go a long way toward allowing us to rise up and put an end to elder abuse and neglect sooner rather than later.