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Crimes Against The Elderly: A Content Analysis On Issues Causing Fear Of Crime

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In India, persons aged 60 or exceeding the age of 60 are considered elderly or senior citizens. The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (Gazette of India, December 2007) statesthat a senior citizen as a person who has reached the age of 60 years or exceeding. Nevertheless, under the law relating to income tax in India, persons are regarded as senior citizens only after they become 65 years old. Those who are between 60 and 74 years old are stated to as younger-old and those who are 75 or more years statedas old age (GESS, 2009).

The percentage of elderly persons in India has increased from 5.63% of the total population in 1961 to 7.44% in 2011 by the 2011Census (Census of India, 2011). In terms of absolute numbers, the elderly population has gone up from 24.6 million in 1951 to 96 million in 2011 by 2001 census. The life expectation has increased from 40 years in 1951 to 64 years in 2011 (World Bank, 2011). The growth rate of the elderly (3.09) is higher than that of the general population (1.9) and the elderly have constituted 7.5% of the total population of the country (GESS, 2009). This growing population is now becoming victims of crime and the crime against the elderly is being recognized as an increasing social problem in modern India.

The cases of offenses against the old aged are on the increase across the country. Today, they are victims of serious hurt, murder, and abuse and isolated by neighbors, family members and domestic maids. According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s report (2018), 32496 elderly have been murdered and 5836 cases of not amounting to murder and kidnapping have been reported all over India from 2011 to 2018. The academicians and the policymakers have begun paying attention to this dimension of elder abuse (Das, 2009). Help Age India (2011) has done a study in twelve major cities of India and reported different kinds of elder abuse cases in its study. According to it, the elderly are abused verbally (60%), physically (48%), emotionally (37%) and economically (35%) and 20% elderly feel neglected themselves from the family as well as society. Furthermore, this study has reported that the major types of crimes faced by the elderly are burglary, molestations and criminal acts. Similarly, the Group for Economic and Social Studies (2009) conducted a survey in four metropolitan cities of India and reported different types of crime that are committed against the elderly. These crimes may be defined as a crime against the body (murder, attempt to murder, hurt and kidnapping etc.), a crime against the property (dacoity, robbery, burglary and theft) and economic crime (cheating, criminal breach of trust etc.). With incidences of crime against the elderly going up, there is a perceptible increase in fear of crime among the elderly.

Ferraro and LaGrange (1987) have given a classical definition of fear of crime. According to them, “fear of crime is ansensitive response of fear or anxiety to a crime that a person associates with the crime.” The term fear encompasses a confusing variety of feelings, perspectives and risk estimations. Fear of crime can be in the form of public feelings, thought, personal risk and criminal victimization. The feeling of fear does not produce a general acuity of crime in society, only encompasses a threat in someone. Fear as a perception is derived from beliefs which hold about crime. Moreover, Ward (1990) has defined fear of crime as “a lack of a sense of security and feeling of susceptibility” (Bruges, 2006). The state of fear of crime is presumed to be multidimensional which contains (a) the individual’s cognitive insight of being endangered, (b) a corresponding affecting experience and (c) a suitable motive or action tendency. Thus, being afraid implies that a situation is apparent as being dangerous and that a situation bears a motive for changes in the behaviour. Hence there is a need to design fear of crime measures which assesses these three components, for example, by asking how often one (a) thinks or worries about crime (b) feels afraid, and (c) behave fearfully (Gert, 2012).

Defensibility also generates fear of crime among the various age groups. Defensibility is understood as the level of security provided by the living environment which helps to reduce the fear of criminal victimization among the people. Defensibility affords physical security devices such as closed-circuit televisions, window grills and locks and social security such as police and security guards. It goes without saying that people feel safe where there is enhanced defensibility (On-fung et al., 2009).

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The Present Study

Fear of crime among the elderly is a new field for the criminological and sociological research in India. A few studies have been done related to fear of crime in India (Madhava Soma Sundaram, 1989, 1996; Nalla et al., 2011). These studies have presented a general view of fear of crime. A study has been done related to fear of crime in Mumbai (Nalla et al., 2011) in Indian perspective. This study contends that economic growth has brought to India problems inherent to rapid urbanization and modernization such as uncontrolled population growth, migration from rural to urban areas, high level of poverty, inner city neighborhood and rising crime. Consequently, there is growing feeling of fear of crime among the elderly. This study has claimed that the level of fear of crime is low among the middle class communities than higher class.

Similarly, International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS) (1992) studied the criminal victimization and fear of crime in developing countries. Mumbai city was selected for this study in India. It was found in this study that level of fear of crime is low in India but it may increase in future. Higher crime rate of an area expresses higher feelings of insecurity.

This study also identified different types of crimes such as murder, rape, burglary, theft, robbery. Basically, violent crimes are committed in the victim’s own house (ICVS, 1995). A number of studies have been done related to crime against the elderly and elder abuse in India (Gupta &Chaudhuri, 2008; Patel, 2010; Thilagaraj&Priyamvadha, 2003; Rufus &Shekhar, 2011). These studies discuss causes and consequences of crime and abuse against the elderly which indirectly reveal fear of crime. From the literature, we can find a research gap and there is a dire need of scientific enquiry to analyze this issue from multiple perspectives and explore the factors affecting fear of crime among the elderly in India. The present study examines the factors related to fear of crime among the elderly. Finally, the paper provides various suggestions for ensuring the safety and security of the elderly.

From the results, it seems that there is a considerablegrowth in criminality against the aged. Such offenses are assured to inject fear between the elderly affecting their physical and mental well-being. Instilling fear among the elderly with every passing hour indicates brutal cases that are coming to light through media channels. Though the percentage of crime by unknown persons and criminals is quite high what alarms the social scientists are the growing incidences of crime committed by family members, relatives and even neighbours. In fact, in our study, we found the involvement of near and dear ones and neighboursis close to 43% of cases. Some studies have already indicated this trend where the family members, relatives and neighbours pose a serious threat to the physical and mental and financial well-being of the elderly. Patel (2010) found in her study that 25% of crimes against elderly are committed by their own family members, particularly, by sons, daughters- in–law, relatives, neighbours and servants. She has explained that the causes responsible for a crime against the elderly are property and land disputes, caste rivalries, living alone, lack of attention of the police to the crime against elderly and rural factionalism.

In this study, we found that 73 (42.94%) cases of crime have been committed by unknown persons and criminals. Moreover, 25 (14.71%) instances of offense have took place as accidents. These incidents came on grounds of negligence from the municipal administration part. For instance, some elderly persons lost their lives due to attack from animals or they fell into uncovered potholes. In our study, we found the corroboration of social incivility. There are as many as 34 cases where the neighbours have been involved in mentally harassing, stealing, injuring and even murdering the helpless elderly. In one case, for instance, one 65-year-old farmer was brutally killed by his neighbours for conflict over sharing of woods (VijayaVaani, 2019). In another case in Shiggaon, one mother-son duo was seriously injured by the neighbours when they objected to a drainage pipe being dug next to their house (PrajaVaani, 2019). This is striking as it is commonly seen that the elderly living alone relies upon the neighbours for their physical safety and mental security.

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Crimes Against The Elderly: A Content Analysis On Issues Causing Fear Of Crime. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/crimes-against-the-elderly-a-content-analysis-on-issues-causing-fear-of-crime/
“Crimes Against The Elderly: A Content Analysis On Issues Causing Fear Of Crime.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/crimes-against-the-elderly-a-content-analysis-on-issues-causing-fear-of-crime/
Crimes Against The Elderly: A Content Analysis On Issues Causing Fear Of Crime. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/crimes-against-the-elderly-a-content-analysis-on-issues-causing-fear-of-crime/> [Accessed 24 Sept. 2022].
Crimes Against The Elderly: A Content Analysis On Issues Causing Fear Of Crime [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2022 Sept 24]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/crimes-against-the-elderly-a-content-analysis-on-issues-causing-fear-of-crime/
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