Letter to the Editor: From an Older, Elder Advocate.
Every day on the local and national news, we hear stories about sexual assaults, domestic violence, child abuse, harassment, police abuse, discrimination, school shootings, and a host of other issues that affect our lives and the lives of others. These subjects are discussed at length on college campuses, both in the classrooms, and in public forums. We as students have been taught to recognize what these issues look like, and how we should act and react when we come in contact with them.
CSUN mandates Title IX training prior to students registering for classes, Project Date visits campus classrooms to talk about sexual assault, and has a campus presence to educate students, professors educate their students as to procedures when confronted with the possibility of a school shooter, and it is agreed that these areas are important for our CSUN community to be aware of. Unfortunately, the subject of Elder Abuse is not one that is often talked about or reported, yet it is an equally prevalent and important subject that affects our elderly population.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the definition of Elder abuse is: “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult. (An older adult is defined as someone age 60 or older.)” Elder abuse includes, physical abuse, sexual abuse or abusive sexual contact, emotional/psychological abuse, neglect and financial abuse or exploitation. The National Council of Aging (NCOA) website notes that 1 in 10 elderly have been abused, 5,000,000 each year, and only 1-14 of those abuses are reported.
CSUN and other academic institutions need to take a proactive stance on this issue and students of all ages, as well as our communities need to be educated about elder abuse. What it is, what to signs to look for, how to prevent it, and to whom, and how to report it. Just as our students will be for future generations, our elders have been our teachers, our caregivers, our historians, and our innovators, and they are also a forgotten demographic that deserves to be protected just as any other demographic.
I am 55 years old, and a transfer student currently completing my junior year here at CSUN. I am nearing that elder demographic and one student who has been educated about elder abuse may be the person to protect me one day.
-Lori A. Peters
California State University Northridge, Class of 2019