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Transcript of Ageism
to develop and exercise their capacities and express their needs, thoughts, and feelings" (2000, p.36) Young goes a step further and states that whether a group is oppressed depends on whether it is subject to five conditions: exploitation,
marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence (2000, p.39). Oppression as it affects youth and older adults AGEISM Marginalization by: Emily Sumner &
Hillary Vervalin Since the inception of the term, the concept of ageism has been applied to a myriad of contexts, which can be looked at broadly and narrowly, depending on the concern. Butler’s general definition of ageism references it as stereotyping and discriminating specifically against the old (as cited in "What is Ageism?," 2011) . The Gray Panthers’ founder, Maggie Kuhn, envisioned the concept of ageism as an opportunity for both older adults and youth to bond over a common concern. Her definition included both ends of the age spectrum, proposing that a young person can be discriminated against because of their age in the same way as an older person (as cited in "What is Ageism?," 2011).
Both youth and older adults experience discrimination and oppression from adults who hold privilege. Exploitation References We believe youth and older adults fit Young's definition of an oppressed social group, and will show that each has experienced Young's five conditions. Sexual Exploitation On an interpersonal level, exploitation of youth by adults, during which the elder takes advantage of the young person’s impressionability and lack of understanding, as well as physical size, are widespread (Dominick & Ebrahimi, n.d.). The U.S. Dept. of Justice states that the average age of entry into prostitution is 12-14 years old.
Of the 1 - 1.5 million runaway children in the U.S., about 1/3 of them have a brush with prostitution.
Earlier childhood sexual abuse greatly increases vulnerability to commercial sexual exploitation during teen years. According to national statistics, children who are sexually abused earlier in childhood are four times more likely than their peers to be targeted and victimized by commercial sexual exploitation. While youth can be marginalized by being prohibited from businesses, they have also been prohibited from participation in society in the form of: "The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a large and growing concern around the world. Every year thousands of children are coerced, kidnapped or tricked by traffickers or pimps into the sex trade. Even though commercially sexually exploited children are routinely arrested as prostitutes and charged with prostitution in the United States, every act of “prostitution” where a child is involved is actually an act of child abuse, rape, and sexual exploitation" (Know the Facts, 2011, p.2). A community in Florida banned those under 18 to be outside without an adult (NBC-2, 2012). Curfew laws: According to the FBI “Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 are most at risk of committing violent acts and being victims between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.” These are times that no curfew laws cover (Curfew FAQ, n.d., Curfew hours section). Powerlessness Cultural Imperialism The status of one's physical health greatly contributes to his or her quality of life and independence.
The increased likelihood of having to rely on others for assistance with daily tasks increases vulnerability and thus, the risk of exploitation for older adults. Physical Health
and Vulnerability Violence
The vulnerability of older adults can lead to eventual exploitation.
The forum for Family and Consumer Issues asserts three main risk factors that contribute to vulnerability in older adults:
Additionally, the oldest adults (85+) within the exploited group of older adults face one of the greatest vulnerabilities to exploitation by institutions and individuals due to the worsening of health and cognitive abilities and the reduction in social support over time.
Other sub groups within the realm of older adults have equal or arguably more risk of exploitation because of dual/multiple identifications with other oppressed groups including:
Low socioeconomic status
(Kim & Geistfeld, 2008.)
Although Kim & Geistfeld of The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues do not address other oppressed groups, one can gather that old age coupled with one or more other oppressed identities including female, gender nonconforming, queer, bisexual, undocumented citizen, immigrant, non-christian, etc. would also face a much greater risk of exploitation in nearly any situation or environment. Exploitation: older adults Cognitive Abilities The loss of cognitive functioning in older age directly correlates to one's level of vulnerability.
Since "older adults often experience decreased information processing and problem solving skills due to declining memory capacity, reasoning/evaluation skills, and cognitive flexibility"... they are at a greater risk of "poor decision-making and judgement ability". (Kim & Geistfeld, 2008). Social Networks It is common for one to lose access to systems of support as he or she ages. Lack of support often accompanies vulnerability and exploitation in older adults for a variety of reasons.
A loss of support may stem from the death(s) of a spouse and/or close friends.
Likewise, retirement and inaccessibility to communication with former colleagues can greatly destabilize one's social network.
Additionally, health problems or cognitive limitations may impede on an older individual's ability to participate in activities in the community.
These factors increase vulnerability to exploitation because a lack of social support may feel isolating and lead an older adult to attempt to form meaningful or alternative relationships in unsafe places.
Isolation can be linked to financial exploitation in particular, because one may "not have a way to validate consumer information"
(Kim & Geistfeld, 2008). Example of Exploitation among Older Adults: Financial Exploitation "It is an article of faith in this business to go after the old folks".
-Con artist speaking to an undercover investigator from AARP in 2002. Financial con artists scam Americans out of about 40 billion dollars annually, and anywhere from 56 to 80% of their phone calls go to older adults (National Crime Prevention Council).
Likewise, in 2011 older adults accounted for 1/8 of the population in the U.S., but made up 1/3 of the population victimized by financial schemes (Kirchheimer, 2011). As in the example above, financial exploitation of older adults can exist at an interpersonal level. However, financial exploitation of older adults at an institutional level proves just as devastating, if not more, due to the substantial number of individuals affected. Not only do institutions such as the U.S. government financially exploit millions of older adults each day, the positional power and overarching adult privilege of U.S. lawmakers to control the lives of older individuals aids in the perpetuation of their oppression.
According to One Away, a campaign for elder economic security, "over 13 million older Americans live in poverty or right on it's edge, with annual incomes of only $22,000 or below". Examples of Financial Exploitation among Elders continued... Marginalization
of Powerlessness Older Adults Older Adults Cultural Imperialism
of older adults Violence against Older Adults The media has been a main mechanism in enforcing society's view of youth. The media's biased portrayal of youth contributes to their discrimination. Youth are rarely given a voice within mainstream media, allowing the privileged adults to perpetuate negative stereotypes of youth. "Kids are smiling at you one day, and the next thing you know, they've killed somebody" (Los Angeles Times, 2012). "It confirms our worst fears in a way. That while we sleep, go about our business, leave our doors unlocked, children are prowling the landscape with knives" (Kohn, 2009). Marginalization refers to the "relegation" of an individual or group to an irrelevant or powerless "position within a society" or larger "group." (Merriam-webster online Dictionary). Those under 18 suffer under a double standard of having adult responsibilities but not rights. Voting Rights Frank Zimring found that "Between 1992 and 1995, forty American states relaxed the requirements for transferring an accused under the maximum age of jurisdiction into criminal court. In Colorado, for example, defendants under the maximum age for juvenile court jurisdiction may nonetheless be charged as an adult by direct filing in criminal court if they are over 14 years of age and are charged with one of a legislative list of violent crimes." In 1971 the United States ratified the 26th Amendment to the Constitution granting the right to vote to 18-20-year-olds. At the height of the Vietnam War most Americans realized the double standard inherent in sending 18-year-old soldiers to fight and die for their country when they weren't allowed to vote.
Today, youth are subject to adult criminal penalties despite lacking the right to vote. A more accurate, multicultural definition considers marginalization as the systematic "deprivation and even extermination" of a "whole category of people" from "useful participation in social life" by privileged and powerful institutions, ideologies, and individuals (Young, 2000, 41). Such deprivation and depreciation by all facets of interpersonal and structural daily life also contributes to the internalized oppression of the individual or group being marginalized. In the case of older adults, systematic and interpersonal marginalization can manifest itself in many ways including:
ambivalence or refusal to hire based on old age
few positive portrayals of old age in media
systematic, often involuntary dependence on outside, support that perpuates the cycle of oppression (i.e. social security, medicare, caregivers) Administration on Aging. (n.d.) How to Answer those Tough Questions about Elder Abuse. Retrieved October 15, 2012, from
Ageism in America. (2004, September 7). Associated Press. Retrieved October 16, 2012 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5868712/ns/health-aging/t/ageism-america/
Ageism Taskforce at the International Longevity Center -- USA. (n.d). Combating ageism in media and marketing. Retrieved on October 17, 2012, from
Aravanis, S. (2006, March). Domestic Violence in Later Life: A Guide to the Aging Network for Domestic Violence and Victim Service Programs. National Association of State Units on Aging; National Center on Elder Abuse. Retrieved October 18, 2012, from
CNN (2011, November 12) CNN: Child Sex Slaves in America. Retrieved October 16, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PLAPvxbYT M
Curfew FAQ. (n.d.). National Youth Rights Association . Retrieved October 18, 2012, from http://www.youthrights.org/issues/curfew/curfew-faq/
Dominick, B., & Ebrahimi, S. Z. (n.d.). Young and Oppressed. National Youth Rights Association. Retrieved October 16, 2012, from http://www.youthrights.org/research/library/young-and-oppressed/
Galtung, J. (n.d.). Structural/Cultural/Direct Violence. Turning The Tide. Retrieved October 17, 2012, from
Geraci, J. (2004). What do youth marketers think about selling to kids?. Advertising & Marketing to Children, 0. Retrieved October 19, 2012, from http://www.cruxresearch.com/downloads/selling-to-kids-0404.pdf
Jeffrey, T. P. (2012, April 23). Violent Crimes Committed at Public Schools . CNSNews.com. Retrieved October 20, 2012, from http://cnsnews.com/news/article/1183700-violent-crimes-committed-public-schools-only-303900-reported-police
Kim, E.J., & Geistfeld, L. (2008). What makes Older Adults vulnerable to Exploitation or Abuse? The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues, 13 (1). Retrieved October 15, 2012, from
Kirchheimer, S. (2011, March 1). Scams Trap Older Adults. American Association of Retired persons. Retrieved October 18, 2012, from http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-02-2011/scams-trap-older-adults.html
Know the Facts: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. (2011). Connections, Summer, 2. Retrieved October 18, 2012, from
Kohn, D. (2009, April 29). In Cold Blood. CBS News. Retrieved October 19, 2012, from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/03/19/60ii/main504076.shtml?tag=mncol%3blst%3b2
Los Angeles Times (2002, March 21). Girl, 16, Gets Life for Slaying. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 19, 2012, from http://articles.latimes.com/2002/mar/21/local/me-christy21
Main Findings. (2006). UN Violence Study. Retrieved October 20, 2012, from http://www.unviolencestudy.org/
Males, M. (2002, April 21). The New Demons: Ordinary Teens. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2012, from http://articles.latimes.com/2002/apr/21/opinion/op-males
National Center on Elder Abuse. (1998, September). The National Elder Abuse Incidence Study. Retrieved October 20, 2012, from
National Child Abuse Statistics . (2010). ChildHelp. Retrieved October 20, 2012, from http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics
National Youth Rights Association. (2009, August 6). United States: Top 10 Reasons to Lower the Voting Age. CRIN - Child Rights International Network. Retrieved October 19, 2012, from http://www.crin.org/resources/infoDetail.asp?ID=10143
NBC-2. (2012). Parents: Community put kids on "house arrest" . WBBH News for Fort Myers. Retrieved October 18, 2012, from http://www.nbc-2.com/story/17387853/2012/04/11/parents-community-puts-kids-on-house-arrest
Noguchi, Y. (2012, February 16). Age Discrimination Suits Jump, but Wins are Elusive. Morning Edition, NPR. Retrieved October 18, 2012, from http://www.npr.org/2012/02/16/146925208/age-discrimination-suits-jump-but-wins-are-elusive
NYRAsefl (2008, September 11) Lower Voting Age – Commercial. Retrieved on October 16, 2012, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GsJHz1who A
Robbed of their Childhood: Child Labor USA. (2000, July 7). SocialistWorker.org. Retrieved October 19, 2012, from http://socialistworker.org/20042/500Supp/500S_20000707_ChildLabor.shtml
Seniors. National Crime Prevention Council. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2012 from
Terence, J. (2012, April 23). 1,183,700 Violent Crimes Committed at Public Schools; Only 303,900 Reported to Police. CNS News. Retrieved October 19, 2012, from http://cnsnews.com/news/article/1183700-violent-crimes-committed-public-schools-only-303900-reported-police
What is Ageism?. (2011, April 25). Ageism Hurts . Retrieved October 16, 2012, from http://ageismhurts.org/
Youth Media Council. (n.d.). Speaking for Ourselves: A Youth Assessment of Local News Coverage. We Interrupt This Message. Retrieved October 17, 2012, from www.interrupt.org/pdfs/Speaking.pdf Religion: Many religions have formal rites of passage by which young members are graduated into adulthood. This systematically segregates children from adults in an official capacity, denying the younger indoctrinees the validity of full-fledged membership in the culture, and forcing upon the adolescents the responsibilities of religious maturity (Dominick & Ebrahimi, n.d.). Discriminatory Hiring
& Between 2004 and 2005, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sifted through more than 19,000 complaints related to age discrimination. Economic Exploitation Compared to an "average, adult job seeker", an individual over 55 can spend three extra months looking for a job (Noguchi, Y., 2012). Such discrepancies help highlight the privilege that adults face in the labor system, as opposed to the marginalized experience of older adults. Marginalization within Labor Systems While the U.S. has laws in place to protect youth from exploitation, the United Farm Workers union estimates that at least 800,000 children work in the fields of the U.S. When the urban sweatshops of the garment and other industries are accounted for, the total number of child laborers in the U.S. runs even higher (Robbed of their childhood, 2000). "The world is experiencing unprecedented increase in average life expectancy and population aging, described as a revolution in longevity. In the twentieth century, the industrialized world gained some 30 additional years of life, greater than had been attained during the preceding 5,000 years of human history and transforming what was once the experience of the few to the destiny of many". (The Ageism Taskforce at the Internation Longevity Center). Even for the youth who are not in an illegal child labor market, the media gears product advertisements specifically to that age bracket.
Crux Research found that a sample of marketers stated they thought it was appropriate to begin marketing towards children at the age of 7 (Geraci, 2004, p.3).
The CEO of the National Urban League recently wrote a letter to Nike in response to their release of a $350 pair of sneakers. The list of objections include[d] the economic exploitation of low-income youth and their families, the promotion of misdirected priorities to our children, and the potential and sometimes real violence associated with this type of marketing campaign (WS Chronicle, 2012). Yet the "destiny of many" is still only an importance to some and an allyship to far fewer. Media Representation
of Older Adults The majority of employees in media-related fields are under the age of 40. This separation creates a lack of connectedness between the realities of older adults and the experience of those in charge of media content. In addition to being exploited and marginalized by adults, youth have few platforms to voice these injustices and create change. youth youth youth youth Inaccurate Portrayal The Youth Media Council followed news stories in Oakland, CA for 3 months. Researchers found that:
Coverage of youth disproportionately focused on crime.
Youth victims of adults are underrepresented in the news.
For each story about youth & poverty, there were 11 such stories about youth & crime.
Youth were quoted in only 30% of stories dealing with youth, yet police, prosecutors, and politicians were quoted in half.
Only one story mentioned that the rate of juvenile crime is declining. Youth Media Council. (n.d.). Speaking for Ourselves: A Youth Assessment of Local News Coverage. We Interrupt This Message. Retrieved October 17, 2012, from www.interrupt.org/pdfs/Speaking.pdf youth (In addition to the sexual & economic exploitation that leads to violence.) The UN conducted a study on violence against children, noting that it is pervasive across the globe. While the study concluded that violence against children happens everywhere, in every country and society and across all social groups, it noted the following institutions where violence against children occurs more frequently (Main Findings, 2006): In the home & family Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime (National Child Abuse Statistics, 2010). Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving nearly 6 million children (a report can include multiple children). The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths (National Child Abuse Statistics, 2010). In schools & educational settings The Department of Education and the Department of Justice say that 1,183,700 violent crimes were committed at American public schools during the 2009-2010 school year (Jeffrey, 2012). Students mirror relationships indicative of adult society. Young people consistently form cliques at school, practicing exclusion and limiting their own exposure to variety. They invalidate and even abuse each other verbally, physically and sexually based on racist, classist and sexist assumptions (Dominick & Ebrahimi, n.d.).
After being marginalized from society, they mimic the behavior, ultimately doing the job of their oppressor by marginalizing others within their age group. If adults were experiencing similar bullying, they would have the freedom and privilege to leave the situation. Students don't have the same option because they are required by law to be in school. In care and justice systems In work settings Most workplace violence is inflicted by employers, although those who inflict violence may also include co-workers, foremen, customers, police, criminal gangs, and intermediaries. Many girls work in domestic labor, which is often unregulated. They report maltreatment such as physical punishment, humiliation and sexual harassment. The exploitation of children in prostitution or child pornography is not only a form of violence in itself, it also puts the exploited children at risk of physical and psychological violence, as well as neglect (Main Findings, 2006). 8 million of the world's children are in residential care.
In at least 77 countries, corporal and other violent forms of punishment are accepted as legal in penal institutions.
Children are placed with adults routinely in penal institutions, putting them at increased risk of violence.
(Main Findings, 2006) Conclusions Emily's Conclusions: When I first decided to learn more about youth, I had an idea that they were marginalized and stereotyped, but hadn't ever thought of teenagers as oppressed. After applying Young's Five Faces, it became clear that youth are an oppressed group. I think ageism, specifically against youth, is unique because that means all of us who above 18 essentially "graduate" from the oppressed group to the oppressing group. I think this speaks to just how socialized ageism is into our culture. Before youth "graduate," they are already practicing the exclusion that they face as youth in high school lunch rooms, albeit possibly for reasons other than age.
I was also surprised to see the horizontal oppression occurring between youth and older adults. While researching, I didn't find one organization that served or worked towards equality both populations. I also noticed that "adultism" is associated with youth, while "ageism" is associated with older adults. Separating the terms seems to be another form of horizontal oppression; keeping the oppressed groups separate through name to limit their interaction and solidarity. This research really forced me to evaluate my own privilege as an adult. I am less likely to be exploited or manipulated simply based on my age. I'm not required by law to be in school, even if school is a place where I'm experiencing violence. Simply being physically larger in size than a child and having more confidence gained with time, I'm less likely to experience violence for those reasons (though am still a woman who is more likely to be a victim of violence). I have a right to vote and therefore an ability to have a say in things that affect my safety, comfort, economic status, happiness, etc. Since adults are the ones typically labeling teens "troublesome" or older adults "senile," I don't usually worry about being discriminated against because of my age. Adult Privilege Know the facts, 2011, p.2. While exploitation can happen to individuals of all ages, youth are more likely to experience it than adults. Adults are often the manipulators using children to further their interests, for money or some other benefit of their own. The youth's impressionability is a unique characteristic, and simply due to age, adults have generally had more time to develop a wider support system, make their own decisions, and may be more likely to stand up to exploitative situations. Adults have the right to vote, and thus have privilege over youth by having some control in shaping issues that affect their lives. Issues facing youth that could possibly disrupt the privilege of adults are unlikely to be made into policies, since adults are likely to vote in their own self-interest. Adults have the privilege of not wondering if they will be able to enter an establishment or event. Once an adult, there are no additional laws that one must now face simply due to one's age. Adults are the leaders within religions, giving them more power over youth. Males explains the area of adult privilege in the media when he explains, " A few months before L.A. and the national media jumped on the Rialto teen's beating of an elderly woman to stir up anti-youth frenzy, an elderly Orange County man beat a 14-year-old to death and tossed his body in a ditch. The media didn't overreact by proclaiming a new breed of old-aged monsters, even though such an image could have been justified by state statistics showing violent crime among Californians over age 50 tripled in two decades" (2002). (CNN: Child Sex Slaves in America, 2011) (National Youth Rights Organization, 2009) (Lower Voting Age - Commercial. 2008) For example, more than 21 % of older adults experience some range of visual impairment while 46 % encounter some range of hearing loss. Reduced functioning in sight and hearing contribute to "diminished functional capabilities in other areas". (Kim & Geistfeld, 2000). It creates further disconnectedness because the largest viewing audience is older adults.
Adults 50 and older spend "30-40% more time watching t.v. than the rest of the population" (The Ageism Taskforce at the International Longevity Center-USA). SAG (The Screen Actors Guild) found that only 27% of prime-time television roles were played by women over the age of 40. When they did have roles their characters appeared "betrayed, abandoned, and abused" (The Ageism Taskforce at the International Longevity Center-USA). Likewise, SAG reported that women under 40 have twice as many opportunities for roles than those over 40. The scarcity (nonexistence) of positive portrayals of older individuals in media socializes youth and adults to view them similarly in real life, as unimportant or invisible. Additionally, The Ageism Taskforce found that older adults, as one the largest viewing populations, internalize these depictions which can lead to "a decline in memory performance, self-efficacy, will to live, and a heightened cardiovascular response to stress". Older Adults as Dependents According to Young, dependents experience"patronizing, punitive, demeaning, and arbitrary treatment by the policies and people associated with welfare bureaucracies" (2000, p. 42). Additionally, older dependents must endure "arbitrary and invasive authority of social service providers and other public and private administrators who enforce rules with which the marginal must comply, and otherwise exercise power over the conditions of their lives" (2000, p. 42). Older adults often must depend on the services and support of those who have power and privilege over them: adults. Most of the time, the oldest of the older adults (85+) are more vulnerable than other individuals over the age of 60 because they have a greater number or more severe experience of the aforementioned risk factors: deteriorating physical health, impaired cognitive abilities, and lack of social support. They may also depend on government for monetary support which, coupled with other risk factors, increases their dependence and thus their margnialization. Dependence is most often seen at an interpersonal level between older adults and their adult children or even more common today, between older adults and caregivers. This creates a dynamic that marginalizes dependents because they "do not have the right to claim to know what is good for them" (Young, p42).
It exists at an institutional level in the forms of welfare, social security, and medicare, among many others. Although such services claim to support older adults and may in some cases succeed, the amount of funding is not enough to assist the oldest of the 77 million baby boomers approaching their 60's and the younger baby boomers just around the corner. Likewise, in difficult economic times, more older adults require government services yet budget cuts often target programs like social security, medicare, among a number of lesser known programs. www.oneaway.org "Marginzaliztion does not cease to be oppresive when one has shelter and food. Many old people, for example have sufficient means to live comfortably but remain oppressed in their marginal status. Even if marginals were provided a comfotable material life within institutions that respected their freedom and dignity, injustices of marginality would remain in the form of uselessness, boredom, and lack of self-respect" (Young, 42). domestic violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, abandonment, coercion, intimidation, threats, among many others . "Violence is any physical, emotional, verbal, institutional, structural or spiritual behavior, attitude, policy or condition that diminishes, dominates or destroys ourselves and others" Johan Gultang, founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies. "No matter what the victim's age, abusers' tactics are remarkably similar. Abusers frequently look for someone they can dominate, people believed to be weak, people unlikely or unable to retaliate. With respect specifically to abuse in later life, the aggressors include spouses and former spouses, partners, adult children, extended family, and in some cases caregivers" Violence against Older Adults Can Take on Many Forms including: National Association of State Units of Aging. According to the 1998 National Elder Abuse Incidence Study (NEAIS), "women represent from 60 percent to 76 percent of those subjected to all forms of abuse and neglect except abandonment, even though, overall, women represent only 58 percent of the elderly population (over 60 years of age)."
52% of the oldest, older adults in the study (80+) experienced neglect. NEAIS also reports that "this older category was disproportionately subjected to physical abuse, emotional abuse, and financial exploitation. Overall, our oldest elders are abused and neglected at two to three times their proportion of the elderly population" (5-5, 1998).
Further, findings indicated that 3/4 of older adults subjected to emotional or psychological abuse were women.
The study also found that 92% of older adults that experienced financial abuse were women, one of greatest disparities discovered. Victims of Elder Abuse and Neglect This study helps demonstrate the increased vulnerability that older women experience, as compared to older men, because they are a part of more than one oppressed group. Perpetrators of Elder Abuse and Neglect According to the NEAIS, male victimizers outnumbered females 3 to 2.
65% of perpetrators were under the age of 60. NEAIS notes that even if they had been over the age of 60, perpetrators could still have been younger than their victim(s).
Most noticeably, was the ages of victimizers of financial abuse against elders. 45% of perpetrators were under the age of 40, and another 40% were between 41 and 49. Thus, 85% of those who committed financial abuse to an older adult were under the age of 50. The clearest observation is the younger abusing the older. Naturally, it is adults who hold privelege over older people, and in many cases take advantage of that privilege for their own benefit. Also, men (another privileged group) were the most likely perpetrators. (National Elder Abuse Incidence Study). Most Recent Data on Elder Abuse and Neglect Adult Protective Services (APS) and other government authorities receive more than 300,000 reports of elder abuse/neglect yearly.
Additionally, authorities only uncover or receive reports regarding approximately 1 in every 14 cases of elder abuse/neglect.
The Administration on Aging explains that even if someone or multiple people report allegations of abuse/neglect, tracking the validity and severity may pose difficulties.
Older victims often fear the same repercussions for reporting abuse as children and recipients of domestic violence: shame
fear of consequences for perpetrator (especially if he or she is a family member)
fear of moving to a nursing home
denial of abuse/neglect
inability to cognitively recognize or understand the abuse/neglect
fear of worsening abuse following the reports
dementia or other cognitive impairments may prevent some older individuals from reporting "There are indications that a culture of ageism and a fear of growing old may keep older people marginalized and undervalued in our society, hence their problems remain invisible or are viewed as unimportant" (Administration on Aging, p3). Cultural imperialism refers to the act(s) of inflicting outside ideas or values onto a group.
Young further explains cultural imperialism to signify how the dominant group's perspective of the oppressed group causes the group to become nearly invisible while maintaining the defining and often negative stereotypes (2000). The idea of powerlessness for older adults is rather interconnected with their exploitation, marginalization, experiences of violence, and experiences of cultural imperialism. For example, if an older individual becomes a victim of financial exploitation, abuse/neglect, or cannot obtain/maintain employment due to his or her age, he or she will feel powerless. In Marion Iris Young's, "Five Faces of Oppression", she specifies the conditions of powerlessness. She explains that at some point, all citizens lack power but that does not make them powerless. She writes, "many people have some power in relation to others, even though they lack the power to decide policies or results" (p.43). The powerless, on the other hand, are those who lack authority or power even in this mediated sense, those over whom power is exercised without their exercising it; the powerless are situated so that they must take orders and rarely have the right to give them (Young, p.42).
Powerlessness appears at an institutional level in the forms of media portrayal, restrictions on government programs, inability to succeed in the labor system, among others.
Older adults are made to feel powerless on an ideological level, because the stereotypes and subsequent treatment of the group is ingrained into the culture, making it difficult to change.
At an interpersonal level, powerlessness emerges for older adults in interactions with any adult, as he or she has privilege over them.
Older adults experience internalized powerlessness, due to the inundations of institutional, idealogical, and interpersonal oppression endured each day. Older adults are made to feel powerless by their oppressors: adults. In Young's description of powerlessness, she also discusses the status assigned to professionals versus nonprofessionals in the system of labor. Professionals are immediately respected, while nonprofessions must earn their respect. Because most older individuals are retired or no longer working in professional settings, they have a more difficult time gaining the respect of adults.
This contributes to a feeling of powerlessness, because the definition of respectable is defined in mainstream culture by something that an older individual is not. Moreover, in many cases, something that an older individual can no longer be, as decided by his or her oppressors. Since adults hold privilege over older adults, they decide how older adults are viewed and how they are ignored. Evidence of cultural imperialism exists in media representation. As noted earlier, very few, if any, positive portrayals of older adults appear in the media, yet stereotypical images remain rampant. (www.nytimes.com (www.demram.blogspot.com) (www.animatedtv.about.com Hillary's Conclusions Older individuals face various kinds of oppression each day. The institutional policies, the inaccurate ideaologies, the interpersonal experiences, and the internalized feelings of worthlessness are woven into the fabric of American society. The exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialsim, and violence experienced by older adults at all levels creates complex realities of oppression that many are ill-equipped to handle. I chose to focus on older adults and ageism for my cultural experience because throughout my life, I have lacked any meaningful encounters with older individuals, beside my grandparents. Unfortunately, I admit that I thought of them as somewhat irrelevant. However, my role as a privileged, adult oppressor of older adults is not okay. I realize that either through awareness and allyship or through omission and ignorance, my beliefs and actions directly and indirectly affect this group. If I do not become an ally, I will stay an oppressor.