Elder Abuse: Police see 22% increase in 10 years in Canada

Elder abuse: Police see 22% increase in 10 years in Canada

Despite this increase, seniors generally feel safe (archives).

According to a Statistics Canada study released on July 7, from 2010 to 2020, the number of incidents of elder abuse recorded by police increased by 22% .

In comparison, over the same period, police-reported violence against younger people decreased by 9%. However, older people say they feel safer than younger people, and overall have more confidence in judicial institutions.

For example, in 2019, 129,000 older people been victims of violence in Canada.

Holder of the research chair on mistreatment of the elderly at the University of Sherbrooke, Marie Beaulieu finds these data rather reassuring.

We are breaking down the wall of silence around elder abuse.

— Marie Beaulieu, Research Chair in Elder Abuse

For Marie Beaulieu, one of the hypotheses that explains this 22% increase is that this corresponds more to an increase in complaints than an increase strictly speaking in violence.

For the past ten years, we have done a lot of work to make people aware of the importance of denouncing violence against seniors, in particular mistreatment, she explains.

Each time an awareness campaign is effective, there is an increase in the number of reports, continues Ms. Beaulieu, adding that, if this hypothesis is true, there is cause for celebration, because our awareness campaigns have paid off.

According to elder law lawyer Ann Soden, the figures in the report do not reflect reality. She doubts that older people really open up about their feelings of insecurity.

They're not going to say "I don't feel safe" in the presence of someone from Statistics Canada or in the presence of a control that someone in the family has over this person. They are not going to recognize the reality that they are not safe, she says.

For the specialist lawyer, reducing violence must go through the education of the youngest.

We need to start teaching at an early age the respect and responsibilities that we all have as a community towards our elders, explains Ms. Soden.

The Statistics Canada report combines police-reported data with data from the General Social Survey on Canadians' Safety.

With information from Anne-Charlotte Carignan and Alexia Bille

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