The Nature of Violent Crimes Against the Elderly

Posted on July 3, 2012 by


What with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the Karen Klein story, elder abuse is suddenly in the spotlight.

Unfortunately, there is no national data source that gives a quantitative overview of elder abuse. The two biggest sources of crime data in this country – the FBI’s UCR data and the National Crime Victimization Survey — don’t really address the issue very well.

Instead, the Bureau of Justice Statistics recently released a report based on National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) which did collect complete elder victimization data for Michigan from 2005-2009. NIBRS, which is similar to the UCR data, captures additional details and information.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Half (49.5%) of violent victimizations of the elderly known to law enforcement in Michigan involved serious violence— murder, rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and kidnapping.
  • Three out of 10 elderly victims of reported violence were victimized by their own child or grandchild.
  • More than a third of violent victimizations of elderly women (37.8%) involved the victim’s child or grandchild, compared to less than a quarter of victimizations of elderly men (22.5%).
  • The rate of reported violence against elderly men (247.7 per 100,000 males age 65 or older) was 1.4 times higher than the rate for elderly women (172.9 per 100,000 women age 65 or older).
  • The rate of reported violent victimization by a stranger was more than 2 times greater for elderly men (65.5 per 100,000 males age 65 or older) than for elderly women (29.2 per 100,000 women age 65 or older).

Some of this is not surprising to me. Of course elderly women are more commonly victimized by people they know, their only family members. This is true of women and girls of all ages. But I am surprised at the rates of violence against elderly men by strangers. I would have thought the numbers would be lower.

What do you think of these findings?


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Posted in: Victims