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Magazines > Searcher > January 2005
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Vol. 13 No. 1 — January 2005
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 []1 and the annual Crime in the United States [].

Elder Abuse

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 deserved.

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 [].

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 []. 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 Administration [], Medicare [], and Medicaid []. Congress may also launch investigations; reports would be available to the public from the General Accounting Office [].

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 []. 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 [] 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. during 2001:

• 903,000 children in the U.S. experienced or were at risk for child abuse and/or neglect (ACF 2003).

• 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 abused.

• 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

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 [] and SafeSurf [] are excellent starting places for learning how to use these tools effectively and teaching safe usage to your children.

Physically Impaired

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 [] and its sister organization in the U.K., the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [], are concerned with the safety of all animals. As well as protecting children, the American Humane Association [] "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 [].

While not specific to abuse of animals, organizations concerned with the preservation of endangered species, such as World Wildlife [] and UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) World Conservation [] 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 [].

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 [] and Sporting News [].

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

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 Domestic Violence:

• "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 [], Hotbot [], WebCrawler [], Teoma [], and Fast Search []. If you prefer to browse directories, try Google [], Yahoo! [], EINet Galaxy [], IncyWincy Social Work [], or Dmoz []. Here are some other related locator tools worthy of note in this context:

• Wondir []

• Soople []

• Highbeam Library Research, formerly eLibrary []

• Netnose []

• Find Articles []

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) [] and the RDN virtual training site for social workers []

• Social Science Information Gateway []

• Social welfare [ or]

• Children []

• Academic Info [ and What's New []

• Scholarly Internet Resource Collections: Social Sciences & Humanities []

• Librarians' Index to the Internet []; Search LII's Society & Social Issues []

• Internet Scout Report & NSDL []

• Freepint []

• Internet Resources Newsletter []

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 [] or by searching the WWW Virtual Library: Education [], the EINet Galaxy's Education Sources database [], or the Higher Education Resource Hub [].

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" [] and "Electronic Access to Social Science Research Resources" [].

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 []

• Social Work — Selected Resources []

• SocioSite []

• PENN Library []

For research papers in the social sciences, particularly those related to legal aspects of abuse, try the Social Sciences Research Network []; updates for the Network can be found at Chadwick-Healey's PolicyFile [], 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 [] or [].

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 [] or ISI Web of Science — Social Sciences. If you are interested in these areas, try the trials available through SageFullText [] or HW Wilson Social Sciences Full Text [].

Should you not have access to a current edition of Gale's Encyclopedia of Associations, try accessing Associations on the Net [] to locate associations covering Social Issues & Social Welfare, including Social Work [].

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

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; 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

5 National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Child Maltreatment Fact Sheet, U.S. Center for Disease Control, 2004. Available at; 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; 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, pp. 79­84.

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 at
; accessed September 12, 2004.


Government Resources

Medline Plus Health Topics — Elder Abuse


National Clearinghouse on Family Violence


National Institute on Aging


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging


U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging


National Criminal Justice Referral Service


National Center on Elder Abuse


World Health Organization Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention — Fact Sheet on Elder Abuse


Academic Institutions

Native Elder Health Care Resource Center


Association Resources



The Centre for Policy on Ageing - AgeInfo


Family Caregiver Alliance


National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse


National Council on Child Abuse & Family Violence


Professional Resources

Pat McClendon's Clinical Social Work


National Association of Social Workers

[] and its Social Work Research page []

Texas Elder Law Blawg Web Portal for Elder Law Professionals


World Wide Web of Resources for Social Workers


Commercial Resources



ARCH Respite []

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 []

Links to sites dealing with the abuse of people with disabilities, such as Abuse & Women with Disabilities [], Abuse of Women with Disabilities [], Beyond Abuse: Treatment Approaches for People with Disabilities [], and People with Mental Retardation and Sexual Abuse [].

Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information & Exchange []

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 []

Extensive list of links to articles, information, and research. []

Access to Disability Data from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Disability Information & Resources []

Extensive list of links to disability organizations and resources.

Midnight at the Internet Café — Resources for People with Disabilities []

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 Guide []

Searchable database of products and services focusing on victims of crime with disabilities


International Agency & Government Resources

Centre for Children & Families in the Justice System Training Material []

Crime & Policing — Domestic Violence []

Domestic Violence & Incest Resource Centre [] including its "When Love Hurts" guide on love, respect, and abuse in relationships []

Domestic Violence information from the Nashville Police Department [

Medline Plus []

National Center for Injury Prevention & Control []

Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Fact Sheet []

National Clearinghouse on Family Violence []

National Governors' Association [

National Indian Child Welfare Association []

National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center [ or]

Safe at Home []

Tribal Court Clearinghouse — Domestic Violence []


U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office []

Academic Institutions

Battered Women and Their Children []

Center for the Study & Prevention of Violence []

Columbia University School of Social Work []

Criminology Links — Domestic Violence [

Domestic Violence/Violence Against Women Links []

Domestic Violence & Victim Resources []

Institute for Families & Society Publications []

Internet Resources for Victimology []

Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse []

National Archive of Criminal Justice Data — Vicitimization []

Santa Monica College Library Resources — Domestic Violence []

Shirley's Social Work Resources []

Violence Against Women []

Wellesley Center for Women []

Association and Advocacy Group Resources

Abuse, Rape, & Domestic Violence Aid & Resource Collection []

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy []

Center for Law and Social Policy []

Child Welfare League of America ­ Domestic Violence []

Communities Against Violence Network []

Corporal Punishment by State []

Domestic Violence Handbook []

Domestic Violence Information Center []

Domestic Violence Project Inc. — Safe House []

Family Violence Prevention Fund []

Children & Domestic Violence Toolbox []

Family Violence & Sexual Assault Institute []

Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community []

The Miles Foundation []

National Center for Victims of Crime []

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence []

National Council on Child Abuse & Family Violence []

National Domestic Violence Hotline []

National Electronic Network on Violence Against Women []

National Organization for Women — Violence Against Women []

Partnerships Against Violence Network Online Research Database []

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Publications []

Urban Institute []

Wilder Foundation [] publications on violence prevention and intervention []and research current reports []

Professional Resources

American Bar Association Domestic Violence Homepage []

American Medical Association []

American Judges Association []

Child Abuse Risk Assessment []

Child Abuse Prevention Council []

Pat McClendon's Clinical Social Work []

The Greenbook Initiative — Effective Intervention [http://www.thegreenbook.nfo], a joint project of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health & Human Services designed to improve the quality of services provided by local jurisdictions to families threatened both by domestic violence and child abuse or maltreatment.

National Association of Social Workers []

Social Work & Social Services Web Sites []

Social Work Research []

Violence Intervention & Prevention Program Database []

Women's Law Initiative []

World Wide Web of Resources for Social Workers []

Commercial Resources

Domestic Violence Resources []

Volcano Press []

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