Stopping abuse may be as simple as providing people with realistic support options so that those being abused can seek help, or those who witness abuse can report it. But it is probably a bit more than that, because these support options need to be able to react and provide the necessary intervention quickly. To do this we need society to acknowledge the evils of abuse and to provide the necessary funding and authority at all levels to stamp it out. To do this we need a belief in and awareness of basic human rights across the board. But in order to be aware we need to be sensitive to the smallest of things:
Today as I walked to get my Starbucks I noticed a little old lady struggling across the crosswalk. The white man had long gone and the countdown finished and the lights were on green. She did not start too late but was crossing far too slowly. I stood out onto the road to lend support to allow the lady to finish the walk safely. Awareness was not really that the person needed help but that our crosswalks ignore the needs of those who may need a little longer to cross. A failure to plan for and be sensitive to the needs of others is one of the reasons why we still have abuse. Awareness has a lot to do with making the changes necessary to put the needs of human beings first and to be aware we need to be sensitive to those needs. So yes, make sure that the support is there to help the abused and that the authority exists to pursue it, but open your eyes and ears and be ready to either step in or raise your voice and to push for change.
The following is an excerpt from the the Canadian Network For the Prevention of Elder Abuse Website on the origins of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) was founded in 1997 and is dedicated to global dissemination of information as part of its commitment to world-wide prevention of abuse and neglect of older adults.
The United Nations International Plan of Action adopted by all countries in Madrid, April 2002, clearly recognizes the importance of addressing and preventing abuse and neglect of older adults and puts it in the framework of the Universal Human Rights.
INPEA is dedicated to supporting the plan of action. As part of INPEA’s research agenda, they launched a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to be held on June 15, 2006. This project was in partnership and collaboration with interested individuals, agencies, organizations, NGO’s, governments and corporations.
Among those who offered initial support were:
the International Association of Gerontology (IAG),
the World Health Organization (WHO),
the International Federation of Aging (IFA),
the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA),
the Subcommittee on Elder Abuse of the UN NGO Committee on Ageing,
the Ontario Seniors Secretariat/Government of Ontario and
International Longevity Center (ILC – USA).
Many more participated. The June 15th day was an effort to focus efforts across the globe to raise awareness of abuse and neglect of older adults in a coordinated fashion.
Objectives of the Debut of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
An official statement to mark the day
reflected messaging around abuse of older persons
stressed the need for people to understand what abuse and neglect of older adults is and how it can be prevented, as well as
highlighted initiatives around the world to reach this goal.
Communities and municipalities made proclamations declaring World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and held events designed to raise their communities’ awareness of abuse and neglect of older persons.
A planning committee comprised of national and regional representatives was established. The planning committee recommended priorities and innovative approaches to promote the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and ensure that linkages were made with governments, organizations and communities across the world.
Development of Program and Activities
As the project developed, suggested activities designed to help people of all ages and from all sectors of communities to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day were provided.
CNPEA co-Chair Charmaine Spencer working with INPEA’s Executive designed a Resources Kit to assist regions in planning the event. Concrete, usable tools and techniques enable individuals/groups to participate in this global event.
Expected Outcomes of the 2006 Debut
At the debut of WEAAD it was anticipated:
Expert consultation will explore and promote the theme of abuse awareness. Promotional events may include cultural, educational, art and social activities, as well as the launching of posters and calendars with the Day’s logo. There will be a multimedia information campaign to publicize the Day.
All activities will bring to the Day a global relevance that will sustain and move abuse awareness forward throughout the day, the year and years to come. It will involve national and international activities developed by countries, communities, neighborhoods and organizations collaborating in multigenerational initiatives that span information technology, cultural and art events, volunteer and educational programmes aiming to create an awareness of elder abuse and its consequences.
You may also wish to see the Ontario Network For the Prevention of Elder Abuse Website.