SHSU professor investigates trends for elderly and crime

May 31, 2012

While the elderly represent the fastest growing segment of the population, too little is known about the nature and scope of crime impacting this generation. Victoria Titterington of Sam Houston State University is trying to change that with a series of studies that examine the elderly and crime.

The , defined as persons over the age of 65, currently represent about 12 percent of the nationally. But with the aging, that number is expected to double by 2030. While the elderly are only a minority of , they are at higher for property crimes, self-neglect and abuse, Titterington found in a 2010 report she prepared for the Texas Crime Victims' Institute.

Reports of elder abuse in domestic settings have increased dramatically, according to several sources, and the University of Chicago's National Social Life, Health & Aging Project estimated that 13 percent of older Americans suffer some form of abuse. Titterington said those figures may be grossly underestimated; for example, the 2004 Survey of State Protective Services said elderly abuse victims range from 100,000 to one million annually. Further, female seniors are at greater risk for abuse than older men.

Financial swindles are one of the fastest growing forms of abuse, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse in their 2009 statistics. The elderly also suffer more self-neglect, and these particular victims are generally depressed, confused or extremely frail.

In one study, Titterington and Napoleon Reyes of Sonoma State University studied and the elderly in three major cities, including Houston, Chicago and Miami, between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s. This research indicates that compared to younger victims, older homicide victims are significantly more likely to be female, to be killed by family members, and to be killed in the course of a robbery or other felony.

In another study, co-authored with SHSU Ph.D. student Jeanne Subjack, the two examined the overall and spousal sex ratios of homicide offending in Texas' six largest cities. The results showed that these sex ratios are low for homicide in general, meaning that women represent a significant minority of offenders. For example, for the period of 1976-2007, for every 100 male offenders in El Paso, there were only 10 female homicide offenders. However, women's representation as homicide offenders is significantly larger in the case of spousal homicides. Across these six cities for this 30-year period, there was a range of 17 to 96 female (and a mean of 56) spousal homicide offenders for every 100 males who were killing spouses/intimate partners. Though the spousal sex ratios of killing were large for both younger and older couples, the levels of spousal homicide offending for males and females has seen a significant reduction in these cities, as well as nationally.

Historically, the criminal justice system has not been a major player in , but more and more police are dealing with these issues on the street. In fact, federal legislation, The Elder Justice Act, was passed in 2010, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It is designed to address many of the weaknesses in current federal and state programs dealing with the , neglect and exploitation of older people.

Explore further: Suspects of child abuse homicide are convicted at rates similar to suspects of adult homicides

Related Stories

Suspects of child abuse homicide are convicted at rates similar to suspects of adult homicides

October 3, 2011
Child abuse homicide offenders appear to be convicted at a rate similar to that of adult homicide offenders in Utah and receive similar levels in severity of sentencing, according to a report in the October issue of Archives ...

Elder abuse remains hidden problem as baby boomers reach old age

March 27, 2012
Despite the 2010 passage of the Elder Justice Act, policy experts have found that combating widespread abuse of seniors is still not a top priority for care providers and governments alike. As many as one in 10 people age ...

Male victims of 'intimate terrorism' can experience damaging psychological effects

April 7, 2011
Men who are abused by their female partners can suffer significant psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicidal thoughts, according to two new papers published by the American Psychological ...

Recommended for you

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

Energy dense foods may increase cancer risk regardless of obesity status

August 17, 2017
Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types ...

Technology is changing Generation smartphone, and not always for the better

August 16, 2017
It's easy to imagine some graybeard long ago weighing in on how this new generation, with all its fancy wheels, missed out on the benefits of dragging stuff from place to place.

The environmental injustice of beauty

August 16, 2017
Women of color have higher levels of beauty-product-related chemicals in their bodies compared to white women, according to a commentary published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The authors say ...

Heavily used pesticide linked to breathing problems in farmworkers' children

August 15, 2017
Elemental sulfur, the most heavily used pesticide in California, may harm the respiratory health of children living near farms that use the pesticide, according to new research led by UC Berkeley.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.