Criminal Victimization of the Elderly
In general, individuals older than sixty-five are significantly less likely than younger individuals to experience a crime victimization. The exception is for personal theft, such as pocket picking and purse snatching, in which the elderly are just as vulnerable as those younger than sixty-five years of age. In addition, elderly women are just as likely as elderly men to experience a robbery victimization. This is important. At no other time in the life course are men and women equally vulnerable to becoming the victims of robbery. Thus, the elderly appear particularly vulnerable to crimes of economic predation.
These patterns of victimization have important implications related to issues of quality of life for many elderly citizens. While victimization undoubtedly has dramatic consequences for people's health and sense of security, fear of victimization is also inextricably related to feelings of well-being. By 2030 the United States will become a nation in which those older than the age of sixty-five will represent 20 percent of the total population. While government officials strive to consider what this growth will do to such programs as Social Security and Medicare, very little attention has been given to issues regarding the quality of life older Americans can come to expect, including feelings of safety. Of the policy initiatives directed at crime, virtually all have ignored crime against the elderly, including the Omnibus Crime Prevention and Control Act implemented by Congress in 1994. Clearly, more research is needed to understand and explain the unique vulnerabilities to crime that older persons in our society face. Only through such empirical assessments can policies aimed at preventing such violence be responsibly enacted.
BACHMAN, R., H. DILLAWAY; AND LACHS, M. S. "Violence Against the Elderly: A Comparative Analysis of Robbery and Assault Across Age and Gender Groups" Research on Aging 20, no.2 (1998): 183–198.
FATTAH, E. A.; AND SACCO, V.F. Crime and Victimization of the Elderly. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1989.
KLAUS, P. A. Crimes Against Persons Age 65 or Older, 1992-1997. NCJ 176352. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 2000.