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[Newsmaker] 3 in 10 elderly abusers are sons: survey

June 15, 2020 - 17:30 By Ock Hyun-ju
Three in 10 abusers of older people were sons of the victims, with emotional abuse being the most common form of abuse reported, government data showed Monday.

Some 31.2 percent of elderly abusers nationwide were sons, followed by spouses (30.3 percent) and care home workers (18.5 percent), according to data released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The number of elderly abuse cases reported from 34 elderly care facilities across the country stood at 16,071 last year, up 3.8 percent from the previous year, according to the data. Some 32.6 percent of the cases were classified as abuse.

Emotional abuse of older people was the most common type reported (42.1 percent), followed by physical abuse (38.1 percent) and neglect (9 percent). Cases of financial abuse, involving taking an older person’s money, pension or assets, rose by 11.8 percent -- from 381 cases in 2018 to 426 last year.

The majority of abuse cases of older people took place at their homes (84.9 percent). In cases of repeat abuse, it was most likely to happen at home (97.8 percent).

Some 1 in 4 elderly abuse victims, or 1,381 people, also suffered from dementia.

In Seoul, home to about 10 million people, 81.5 percent of the elderly abuse victims were women, with 4 in 10 abusers being their sons, according to a separate analysis released by the Seoul Metropolitan Government on Monday.

There were 1,963 reports of mental and physical abuse faced by people aged 65 or over in the country’s capital last year, with the number having tripled from 2005 when related data began to be collected, according to an analysis based on data from three elderly care facilities.

The older victims in Seoul were also abused mostly by family members. Some 37.2 percent of the perpetrators were a son, followed by spouse (35.4 percent) and daughter (11.8 percent), the data showed.

Some 67.5 percent of them were abused more than once a month, with 38.5 percent of them being over a period of more than five years. The majority of abuse cases, or 92.3 percent, took place in the older person’s home, according to the data.

In Gyeonggi Province, which has a population of nearly 14 million people, there were 969 cases of elderly abuse reported from four elderly protection facilities last year.

The major perpetrators of abusing older people were their spouses at 35.1 percent in the province, followed by sons (33.3 percent), care workers (12.2 percent) and daughters (8.7 percent), according to the data released Sunday.

“There is a bigger possibility of abuse of the elderly, such as violence and neglect, in the situation where they get unavoidably isolated due to social distancing and routine distancing practices,” Choi Young-ae, chief of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, said in a statement Monday.

“Our society needs to review and strengthen social safety nets to better protect the elderly, which is a vulnerable group.” 

By Ock Hyun-ju (