A community capacity framework for enhancing a criminal justice response to elder abuse

Karen A. Roberto, Pamela B. Teaster, Marya C. McPherson, Jay A. Mancini, Jyoti Savla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Perceptions of elder abuse are shaped by experiential, cultural, contextual, and generational variables that influence both individuals' abilities to recognize elder abuse and their likelihood to report concerns to authorities. To examine community residents' understanding and awareness of elder abuse and their readiness to take action against it, we conducted telephone interviews with 710 adults, aged 25 and older, living in rural Virginia and Kentucky. Respondents answered a series of questions in response to scenarios depicting elder abuse. Although the majority of respondents identified the scenarios as representing abusive family situations, responses differed based on age, sex, and educational level of the respondents and sex of the victim portrayed in the scenarios. Older respondents and respondents with more positive perceptions of community cohesion (trust) also were likely to indicate that the older adult described in the scenario would get the necessary help that she or he needed. Based on our study findings, the extant literature, and concepts of community capacity, we propose a community capacity framework that highlights how the criminal justice system can optimally interface with formal systems and informal networks to reduce the risks for elder abuse within the community and overcome barriers to intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-26
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Crime and Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015


  • community perceptions
  • elder abuse
  • older adults
  • rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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