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Elder abuse education needs to start at young age
Information night highlights what is being done and needs to be done

Kristen Campbell
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, June 12, 2012

HAY RIVER
Starting education at the roots of society was the theme during an elder abuse information session on June 5.

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RCMP Special Const. Steve Beck spoke to a small group on June 5 during an elder abuse information session hosted by the NWT Network to Prevent Abuse to Older Adults. - Kristen Campbell/NNSL photo

The NWT Network to Prevent Abuse to Older Adults brought together a small group of interested individuals at Supported Living Services to hear presentations on elder abuse, particularly what steps can be taken to recognize and prevent it.

The evening kicked off with positive words from a man who has seen elder abuse first hand RCMP Special Const. Steve Beck.

"Elder abuse is something as a police force we encounter in different forms," he said.

Beck explained some forms of abuse are more obvious than others, including physical, verbal, emotional and financial.

The special constable added residential school payments are something officers are seeing more frequently as a way for someone to take advantage of an elder, and it often comes from someone near and dear to the victim's heart.

"It's something that we look at more from someone with a connection," he said. "There has to be some sort of trust."

Beck said one of the misconceptions the local detachment is trying to overcome is the perception that, if the RCMP is called, the alleged abuser will be arrested and tossed in jail something that may be difficult to deal with when the abuser is a loved one of a victim.

Beck said officers are looking to sit down and resolve the situation through talking, not hauling someone off to prison.

"Our job is to stop the crime from happening, not discipline the person," he said.

One way to do so is by educating both youth and elders about abuse.

Beck said there are many programs currently in place to help youth respect their elders, including a trapping program that Beck himself has been holding regularly.

By the end of the camp, he noted he sees a healthy change in younger attitudes towards traditional values.

"It's about educating and making these connections before there is a problem," he said.

Beck also spoke of the various agencies around town and throughout the NWT that can provide services to elders falling victim of abuse.

"It's all about putting checkpoints into place," he said.

Members of the agencies involved in the NWT Network to Prevent Abuse to Older Adults spoke about what they see in town, such as abuse of medication and phone scams, and let the group know why the network came to be.

"(The purpose of the network) is to try to develop a joint group with small individual programs," said network representative Cindy McNichol.

She said, by organizing programs across the territory, it will be easier for someone who requires help to access it.

Information session co-ordinator and network member Terry Rideout expressed how passionate the group is about educating the public about elder abuse and how important it is for something like the network to be put in place.

"It's organizations working together," he said. "It's the only way to be really effective. It takes everyone to make a community."

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