For the first time in its history, the Department of Justice today observed June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to raise awareness about the vulnerability of the elder population to abuse and violence. World Elder Abuse Day, first celebrated in 2005, is organized by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Tony West and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Director Susan B. Carbon participated today in events in Anaheim, Calif., and Washington, D.C. The events are part of the Justice Department’s year-long commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The U.S. Bureau of the Census predicts that by 2030, the population over age 65 will double to more than 70 million people and older people will make up almost 20 percent of the population. According to the best available estimates, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have experienced abuse; and for each reported case about five more cases go unreported. Unfortunately, as the number of older individuals increases, so does the number of potential victims of elder abuse.
The Department of Justice funds programs throughout the country that provide communities with training and resources to combat elder abuse and serve survivors in later life. OVW has provided more than $25 million in funding to 75 communities since 2002 through its Abuse in Later Life Program. Also since 2002, the Office of Justice Programs has awarded more than $6.7 million to 20 programs.
This morning, OVW Director Carbon and Counsel to the Associate Attorney General Mala Adiga joined Anaheim Chief of Police John Welter; the Anaheim Family Justice Center; the University of California, Irvine’s Elder Abuse Forensic Center; the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL); Human Options (the local victim service provider); and the Archstone Foundation for a discussion about promising practices and community collaborations towards working with elder abuse survivors. NCALL also announced the release of the film, Walking in Our Shoes, an OVW-funded national training video produced through a grant to the National District Attorney’s Association on elder abuse. The film features an introduction from The View’s Barbara Walters, a member of the Justice Department's “Join the List” campaign, a group of more than 100 celebrities including actors, musicians and athletes, who have lent their names to the department’s effort to raise awareness.
In Washington, D.C., the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) sponsored a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event featuring Assistant Attorney General West, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary and HHS Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary on Aging Cindy R. Padilla. Kathleen Quinn from the National Adult Protection Services Association, King County (Washington State) Prosecutor Page Ulrey and Bob Blancato from the Elder Justice Coalition also participated.
On Sept. 14, 2009, the Justice Department marked the 15th anniversary of President Bill Clinton’s signing of VAWA and the creation of OVW. The department has initiated a year-long effort to raise public awareness, build stronger coalitions among federal, state, local and tribal communities, and redouble efforts to end domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, for men, women and children across the country.