Safety First: Part Three
Why We Should Care?
by Barbie E. Keiser
Information Resources Management Consultant
The first two installments of "Safety First," published
in the May and June 2004 issues of Searcher, reviewed
selected sites and organizations dealing with the prevention
of accidents and what to do should injuries occur.
Research for the series uncovered an inordinate number
of resources devoted to the abuse, neglect, and maltreatment
of precisely those segments of our population that
most need protection: the old, the young, the physically
impaired, and animals. This third installment of "Safety
First" will cover the abuse of these populations as
well as spousal or intimate partner abuse.
Maltreatment can include a range of physical abuses,
including sexual, as well as psychological/emotional,
abuse. In the case of the physically impaired and the
elderly, outrageous scams can often result in severe
financial losses. The targets for these frauds may
be individuals or institutions and the entire healthcare
system; abusers can be strangers, relatives, caregivers,
and even the medical community. This final installment
of "Safety First" will deal with the types of abuse
specific to each of these five segments of the population,
mechanisms for reporting abuse, legal and medical remedies
for both victims and abusers, and specific settings
and locales where such abuses occur with alarming frequency.
Beyond the sites specific to the types of abuse discussed
in this article, researchers should look for help from
general resources concerning crime, criminals, and
victims. This is particularly true of annual statistical
studies with detailed breakdowns of the types and severity
of crimes, age of victim, etc. Reports that come to
mind include the Federal Bureau of Investigations'
Uniform Crime Reports [http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/02cius.htm]1 and
the annual Crime in the United States [http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm#cius].
Age may be a state of mind, but there is no doubt
that additional resources are going toward the detection
and prosecution of those involved with abusing our
seniors. The abuse has probably occurred all along,
but now we have become more aware of the issue. Not
only is it being reported with greater frequency, but
officials are now taking these accusations more seriously
and investigating them with the thoroughness that is
Government agencies and the media have certainly
begun placing more emphasis on the identification of
abuse of the elderly. Perhaps it is the sheer number
of "baby boomers" now approaching the age when this
could become a problem for them which has brought this
issue to the fore now. According to a recently released
General Accounting Office report, 470,000 cases of
elder abuse were reported to authorities in the U.S.
in 2001. It is estimated that only one in five cases
is ever reported.2
Over the past decade, an entire legal practice has
sprung up devoted to elder law. Traditional publishers
within the legal community have released titles covering
this area and you will find a good number of newsletters
available through the sites of law firms specializing
in elder law. This area of law even has its own association,
the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys [http://www.naela.com].
The elderly are victims of physical abuse as well
as psychological/emotional abuse. Sad to say, abuse
by family members comprises 90 percent of all abuse
of the elderly in the U.S.3
Abuse by healthcare professionals and staff in healthcare
institutions is being addressed by intensified employee
background checks, similar to those required of child
care workers after California's McMartin case. If you
must consider a nursing home for the care of a dear
one, you will want the best; Medicare's Web site allows
you to compare nursing homes in your area [http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare].
This site lets one search for nursing homes by geography
(state and county), proximity (within X miles of a
city or particular ZIP code), or by institutional name.
Attempts by corrupt healthcare professionals to defraud
the Medicare and Medicaid systems are frequently chronicled
in the local press. For research studies on fraud in
this area, check with the Web sites of the Social Security
and Medicaid [http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medicaid/].
Congress may also launch investigations; reports would
be available to the public from the General Accounting
Financial scams continue to be perpetrated on the
older adult community, but remain underreported, perhaps
due to how embarrassing seniors find being taken in
by con men. The types of financial scams included in
this type of fraud fall into several categories: insurance
(health, funeral, life), auto/home repair, loans and
mortgages, investments, charitable contributions, and
prizes/sweepstake winners. For more information on
these types of frauds and their effects on seniors,
go to any one of several U.S. Department of Justice
studies, such as "Financial Crimes Against the Elderly," issued
in September 2003 [http://www.cops.usdoj.gov].
Table 1 at right highlights a selection of Web sites
from government agencies, academic institutions, associations,
professional firms, and commercial entities that maintain
resources concerning elder abuse.
Child Abuse, Neglect, and Maltreatment
Installments one and two of this series mentioned
several Web sites devoted to the safety of children
from what we might consider "normal" events within
a child's development, such as accidents (e.g., on
the playground, at the pool, bicycling, roller skating
or blading, etc.). These resources, such as those listed
on the Children's Safety Zone [http://www.sosnet.com/safety/safety1.html] are
helpful, although the hidden causes of childhood trauma
are not addressed.
"Each year, almost 3 million American children are
alleged to be abused or neglected. In 2002, there were
896,000 children who were the documented victims of
child abuse or neglect nationwide." Of these, approximately
1,400 children died as a result of abuse or neglect
and "in 81 percent of the cases, at least one parent
was the person responsible for child maltreatment."4
The "Resources for the Protection of Children" sidebar
beginning on page 38 encompasses both physical and
sexual abuse, neglect, and psychological/emotional
abuse of children under 18 years of age. "According
to data about child abuse and neglect cases known to
child protective services (CPS) agencies in the U.S.
903,000 children in the U.S. experienced
or were at risk for child abuse and/or neglect (ACF
59 percent of child maltreatment victims
suffered neglect (including medical neglect); 19
percent were physically abused; 10 percent were sexually
abused; and 7 percent were emotionally or psychologically
1,300 children died from maltreatment;
35 percent of these deaths were from neglect and
26 percent from physical abuse (ACF 2003).5
In 2004, the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse
was 19 November; resources for Child Abuse Prevention
month in the U.S. (April) will be available at http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/topics/prevention/index.cfm.
Many organizations (and Web sites) are devoted to
keeping children safe as they view the media (e.g.,
television show and movie ratings), listen to music,
play video games, or access the Internet. Child Safe
International [http://www.childsafe.com/] and
SafeSurf [http://www.safesurf.com/] are
excellent starting places for learning how to use these
tools effectively and teaching safe usage to your children.
The physically impaired comprise another group that
is easy prey for abuse. According to the 2000 Census,
49.7 million Americans over the age of 5 have one or
more physical or mental disabilities. That means that
19 percent of the total population of the U.S. is a
potential victim for such abuse. A selection of resources
that serve the physically impaired victims of abuse
appears in Table 2 at left.
The Animal Kingdom
Readers of Searcher magazine may be familiar
with organizations that deal with the well-being of
pets, such as local animal shelters that display adorable
kittens and puppies for adoption, but the American
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [http://www.aspca.org] and
its sister organization in the U.K., the Royal Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [http://www.rspca.org.uk],
are concerned with the safety of all animals. As well
as protecting children, the American Humane Association [http://www.americanhumane.org] "is
a well-established animal welfare organization" protecting "animals
through positive advocacy and action."
When we hear about outrageous behavior concerning
pets, it's usually associated with news reports of
a pet owner with an extraordinary number of cats living
in small residential home or a pit bull that has bitten
a child but whose owner still proclaims the "abuse
as a pup" defense. Organizations around the world have
established Web sites, but many lack substantial content
and merely request donations. One that does contain
useful data and links is the Pet Abuse Database [http://www.pet-abuse.com/database/stats/].
While not specific to abuse of animals, organizations
concerned with the preservation of endangered species,
such as World Wildlife [http://www.worldwildlife.org] and
UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) World
Conservation [http://www.unep-wcmc.org/] maintain
particularly informative Web sites. On the domestic
front, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal
Care Program and Animal and Plant Inspection Service
are concerned with animal welfare. Many of the Department's
reports appear on its Web site [http://www.usda.gov].
Animal abuses at the racetrack may serve as fodder
for mystery novels, but coverage on the Web is minimal.
If such abuses did occur, you would more likely find
them mentioned in the news sections of some of the
more reputable racing sites, such as Sporting Life [http://www.sportinglife.com] and
Sporting News [http://www.sportingnews.com].
Why should we care about abuse of animals? Well,
for one thing, there is a definite linkage between
abuse of animals, especially pets, and the delinquency
of youth, particularly young boys. Just look at how
many youthful offenders began their life of crime tormenting
animals. For articles, information, and research connected
to animal welfare and abuse, look at the items at http://www.vachss.com/help_text/pets_animals.html.
Where Home Is No Castle
The phrase "domestic violence" covers many categories
of violence that occur within relationships: spousal
or intimate partner abuse, battering, partner violence,
acquaintance or date rape. According to the U.S. Center
for Disease Control and Prevention's Fact Sheet on
"1.5 million women and 834,700 men
are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate
partner each year. Costs exceed $5.8 billion each
year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct
medical and mental healthcare services."
In 2002, "intimate partner violence
[IPV] affected about four households in 1,000."6
"Nearly two-thirds of women who reported
being raped, physically assaulted, or stalked since
age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband,
cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date."7
As many as 324,000 women each year
experience IPV during their pregnancy.8
Further compounding the problem is the fact that "in
homes where domestic violence is occurring, there is
a 30 percent to 60 percent likelihood that child maltreatment
is also taking place."9
Table 3 on page 37 lists many helpful official organizations
dealing with domestic violence, providing assistance
to victims, conducting research, collecting statistics,
prosecuting offenders, serving as resources for men
as victims or helping children deal with violence within
their families, and running international human rights
campaigns for women and children.
Last Tip: General Social Welfare Tools
As these sites illustrate, there is an entire industry
growing up around the protection of large segments
of the human and animal population involving government
agencies, law enforcement officials, healthcare and
veterinary professionals, the legal community, advocacy
groups, and educators. Search tools targeting government
agency resources as well as both health-related and
legal field research have been addressed in many articles
published in Searcher magazine. However, it
would be irresponsible to conclude this piece without
reviewing a few of the tools that will help you keep
up with new resources covering the social sciences.
Some search engines do a better job in crawling social
science Web sites, maintaining an up-to-date index
of resources covering the field of social work/social
welfare. Those that consistently appear to do a better
job in this field than the rest include AltaVista [http://www.altavista.com],
and Fast Search [http://www.alltheweb.com].
If you prefer to browse directories, try Google [http://directory.google.com/Top/Science/Social_Sciences/],
EINet Galaxy [http://galaxy.einet.net/b/d?n=57279],
IncyWincy Social Work [http://www.incywincy.com/default?p=119014],
or Dmoz [http://www.dmoz.com/Home/Family].
Here are some other related locator tools worthy of
note in this context:
Highbeam Library Research, formerly
Find Articles [http://www.findarticles.com]
Social science malls, gateways, and tools for
professional assistance abound. A few of the more useful
in this area include the following:
Resource Discovery Network (RDN) [http://rdn.ac.uk] and
the RDN virtual training site for social workers [http://www.vts.rdn.ac.uk/tutorial/social-worker]
Social Science Information Gateway [http://www.sosig.ac.uk]
Social welfare [http://www.sosig.ac.uk/social_welfare
Academic Info [http://www.academicinfo.net) and
What's New [http://www.academicinfo.net/new.html]
Scholarly Internet Resource Collections:
Social Sciences & Humanities [http://infomine.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/search?category=liberal]
Librarians' Index to the Internet [http://www.lii.org];
Search LII's Society & Social Issues [http://lii.org/search/file/society]
Internet Scout Report & NSDL [http://scout.cs.wisc.edu]
Internet Resources Newsletter [http://www.hw.ac.uk/libWWW/irn/irn.html]
Academic institutions offering degree programs in
social work at either the undergraduate or graduate
level provide another source of information regarding
abuse. One can locate these institutions through listings
on the site of the Council on Social Work Education [http://www.cswe.org/programdir/start.htm] or
by searching the WWW Virtual Library: Education [http://www.csu.edu.au/education/library.html],
the EINet Galaxy's Education Sources database [http://galaxy.einet.net/galaxy/Social-Sciences/Education.html],
or the Higher Education Resource Hub [http://www.higher-ed.org/].
At these university Web sites, you might find published
articles and/or working papers by faculty members or
identify experts in a particular field. Typical examples
include "Social Work in Educational Settings" [http://www.vu.msu.edu/preview/sw891c/] and "Electronic
Access to Social Science Research Resources" [http://www.ou.edu/ap/lis5703/].
The libraries supporting student and faculty research
at these institutions can also help researchers at
a distance by providing bibliographies and pathfinders.
The following provide outstanding examples of these
types of works:
Social Welfare [http://library.albany.edu/subject/socwork.htm]
Social Work Selected Resources [http://newark.rutgers.edu/~natalieb/socialwk.htm]
PENN Library [http://www.library.upenn.edu/cgi-bin/res/sr.cgi?community=81&resourcetype=25]
For research papers in the social sciences, particularly
those related to legal aspects of abuse, try the Social
Sciences Research Network [http://papers.ssrn.com];
updates for the Network can be found at http://www.ssrn.com/update/lsn/index.html.
Chadwick-Healey's PolicyFile [http://www.policyfile.com],
now part of ProQuest, contains abstracts of reports
on major public policy issues such as the abuses described
in this article, and links to organizations publishing
them. If you are not certain which think tank has issued
reports on abusive situations, you can link through
to a series of think tanks by going to NIRA's World
Directory of Think Tanks [http://www.nira.go.jp/linke/tt-link/index.html] or [http://www.nira.go.jp/ice/tt-info/nwdtt99/].
Indexing and abstracting services such as PsycInfo/Psychological
Abstracts and Social Science Citation Index have evolved
into full-text searchable databases, such as those
available through Cambridge Scientific [http://www.csa.com] or
ISI Web of Science Social Sciences. If you are
interested in these areas, try the trials available
through SageFullText [http://www.sagefulltext.com] or
HW Wilson Social Sciences Full Text [http://www.hwwilson.com/databases/socsci.htm].
Should you not have access to a current edition of
Gale's Encyclopedia of Associations, try accessing
Associations on the Net [http://www.ipl.org/ref/AON] to
locate associations covering Social Issues & Social
Welfare, including Social Work [http://www.ipl.org/div/aon/browse/soc80.00.00/].
By monitoring resources within the broad field of
social work, readers of this magazine can keep up with
new sources of assistance for each of the populations
highlighted in this piece.
1 Preliminary 2003
data appears at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/2003/03prelimucr.pdf.
2 U.S. General Accounting
Office, "Report on Guardianships: Collaboration Needed
to Protect Incapacitated Elderly People," Washington,
D.C.: GAO, 2004.
3 National Elder
Abuse Incidence Study, Final Report, September 1998.
Prepared for The Administration for Children and Families,
The Administration on Aging in the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services. Available at http://www.aoa.gov/eldfam/Elder_Rights/
accessed September 12, 2004.
4 The sources for
these Child Welfare Statistics are the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services (2004); Child Maltreatment
2002; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(2002); and National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System,
which are all available at http://www.childrensrights.org/
5 National Center
for Injury Prevention and Control, Child Maltreatment
Fact Sheet, U.S. Center for Disease Control, 2004.
Available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/cfacts.htm;
accessed September 12, 2004.
6 Bureau of Justice
Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, Crime in
the Nation's Households 2002, Washington, D.C.:
U.S. Department of Justice, 2004. Accessible at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cnh02.htm;
accessed September 12, 2004.
7 Tjaden P., Thoennes
N., Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and
Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women:
Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,
Report for grant 93-IJ-CX-0012, funded by the National
Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. Washington (DC): NIJ, 2000; and Tjaden
P., Thoennes N., Extent, Nature, and Consequences
of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National
Violence Against Women Survey, Report for grant
93-IJ-CX-0012, funded by the National Institute of
Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Washington (D.C.): NIJ, 2000.
8 Gazmararian J.
A., Petersen, R., Spitz, A. M., Goodwin, M. M., Saltzman,
L. E., Marks, J. S., "Violence and Reproductive Health;
Current Knowledge and Future Research Directions," Maternal
and Child Health Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, 2000,
9 "Building Bridges
Across Systems: State Innovations to Address and Prevent
Family Violence," Issue Brief from the National Governors'
Association Center for Best Practices, 2000. Available
accessed September 12, 2004.
Table 2. RESOURCES
FOR PHYSICALLY IMPAIRED VICTIMS OF ABUSE
(AND THEIR CAREGIVERS)
ARCH Respite [http://www.archrespite.org/index.htm]
RESPITE is temporary relief for caregivers
and families caring for people with disabilities
or other special needs, such as chronic or terminal
illnesses, or others at risk of abuse and neglect.
This Web site is devoted to issues regarding
the provision of respite to those caregivers.
Among the many fact sheets available through
this site are FS2, Respite for Children with
Disabilities & Chronic or Terminal Illness, and
FS36, Abuse and Neglect of Children with Disabilities.
Abuse of People with Disabilities [http://www.disabilityresources.org/ABUSE.html]
Links to sites dealing with the abuse of people
with disabilities, such as Abuse & Women
with Disabilities [http://www.bcm.edu/crowd/abuse_women/abuse_women.html],
Abuse of Women with Disabilities [http://www.4woman.gov/wwd/wwd.cfm?page=24],
Beyond Abuse: Treatment Approaches for People
with Disabilities [http://greg.quuxuum.org/journal/focht_new.html],
and People with Mental Retardation and Sexual
Center for International Rehabilitation
Research Information & Exchange [http://cirrie.buffalo.edu/]
The CIRRIE Database currently contains over
24,500 citations of international rehabilitation
research published between 1990 and the present.
Thesaurus uses "abuse" to cover sexual abuse,
verbal abuse, elder abuse, and domestic violence.
Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness
Act P.L. 105-301
"A bill to increase public awareness of the
plight of victims of crime with developmental
disabilities, to collect data to measure the
magnitude of the problem, and to develop strategies
to address the safety and justice needs of victims
of crime with developmental disabilities."
Disabled Abuse Resources [http://www.vachss.com/help_text/disabled_abuse.html]
Extensive list of links to articles, information,
Access to Disability Data from the National
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.
Disability Information & Resources [http://www.makoa.org]
Extensive list of links to disability organizations
Midnight at the Internet Café Resources
for People with Disabilities [http://www.cclsweb.org/MidnightFiles/midnight.php?m=7]
Links to directories, clearinghouses and gateways;
general disability Web sites; reference tools & guides;
government resources; and specific disabilities
[e.g., motor/physical, psychiatric, and deafness].
Victims of Crime with Disabilities Resource
Searchable database of products and services
focusing on victims of crime with disabilities